In 2017, the personal information of over 145 million Americans was exposed by one of the largest data breaches in recent times. The breach occurred at Equifax, one of the three credit reporting bureaus entrusted with some of the most sensitive personal data, including Social Security Numbers. If you are one of the individuals impacted by the breach (hint: you probably were), you can now file a claim as part of a settlement that Equifax is finalizing to resolve claims.
Equifax's data breach affected more than 145 million Americans
How Do I Find Out If I Am Eligible To File A Claim?
You are eligible to file a claim if your personal information was compromised by the data breach. There is a dedicated page - https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/ - with important information about the proposed settlement.
On this page, there is a link that will enable you to find out if your information was impacted by the data breach. You will have to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security Number and then the site will inform you if your personal information was compromised.
You can check the Equifax Settlement website to see if your information was impacted by the data breach
How Can I File A Claim?
If your personal information was impacted, you can then click through to file a claim. I did this last night and the process took less than 10 minutes.
How Much Money Will I Get?
Your options depend on the type of harm you experienced as a result of the breach. If you suffered losses as a result of the breach and can provide documentation of your out-of-pocket costs, you may be eligible for cash payments up to $20,000.
Even if this doesn’t apply (and for many, this is hopefully the case), you are still eligible for some relief and can file a claim. You can choose between two options:
Free Credit Monitoring: you can receive 10 years of credit monitoring from Equifax or Experian, one of the other credit bureaus.
One Time Cash Payment: Alternatively, you can request a cash payment of $125.
In addition, you can receive additional compensation for time spent “remedying fraud, identity theft, or other misuse of your personal information caused by the data breach, or purchasing credit monitoring or freezing credit reports. The proposed settlement would compensate individuals $25 for each hour, up to 20 hours.
You can submit a claim for additional compensation for time spent dealing with the data breach
For me, the process was straightforward here too. One item I filed a claim for was the time and cost I spent unfreezing and refreezing my credit reports when I was looking to buy a new iPhone. You will need to input a description of the actions you took, the approximate month and year you took those actions, and how long it took you.
What is the Deadline To File?
Consumers have until January 22, 2020 to file claims.
When Will I Receive My Money?
As the settlement page indicates, none of the benefits will be distributed until the final settlement is approved, which could take some time.