The US credit reporting agency Equifax settled earlier this week with the Federal Trade Commission over the massive 2017 data breach that exposed hundreds of millions of Americans’ Social Security numbers and other sensitive data. Now, you can finally file a claim to collect on the $700 million settlement, which contains a $380,500,000 consumer restitution fund, as part of the class action lawsuit.
The FTC this morning posted the claim website, where you can both check if you were affected by the company’s breach and fill out the relatively simple form that lets you specify to which claims you feel entitled. Thankfully, it is not operated by Equifax, but by the settlement administrator JND, which handles these types of sprawling class action and corporate bankruptcy cases that may eventually involve millions of people filing claims. The website can be found here.
On the website, you can check whether you’ve been affected by the Equifax breach by inputting your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.
You’ll get a simple “our records indicate your personal information was impacted by this incident” message if you were indeed affected. From there, you can head back to the main page and file a claim. The claim process is incredibly simple, and you can do so online or you can print the form to fill it out and mail it in. You can also request that JND mail you a form, as well as download a form on behalf of a minor.
The form asks for some simple biographical information, like where you live and when you were born. From there you can request either a $125 check or pre-paid card, or free three-bureau credit monitoring. To claim the money, you need to already have credit monitoring and must have it for another six months after you file the claim.
If you’d rather have the money over the free provided credit monitoring, you can simply sign up for a free service like Credit Karma today, which offers free daily credit monitoring from its partner TransUnion. A number of credit cards, and Intuit’s budget-planning service Mint, also offer some versions of credit monitoring for free. Additionally, there are paid services like Identity Guard and MyFICO that do the same, with a few more robust identity theft protections and other services built in.
The Equifax breach claim process with then ask you whether you’d like restitution for time spent because of the breach, up to $25 per hour for a total of 20 hours. Chances are most affected Americans haven’t spent any time, mostly because a majority of people likely aren’t even aware they were affected.
That said, if you did spend time combating any identity theft issues or dealing with any credit fraud because of the breach, you can file a claim for compensation up to $500. You’ll have to provide a fair amount of documentation for this part, so unless it’s something you legitimately spent a lot of time on and have the records to prove it, you can just click next and move on.
The final step asks whether you’ve actually been a victim of identity fraud or theft because of the breach and suffered financially because of it without any reimbursement. Again, this will require some pretty serious documentation. Following this step, or if you just skip it by clicking next, you can specify check or pre-paid card for your claim and then confirm all your information.
You’ll end up with a claim number you should save to your computer as a PDF. The form asks for your email, but when I just filled it out earlier this morning, I did not receive an email, so it’s best to make sure you have a copy of the page saved offline in the event you’re asked to provide proof of your claim in the future.
As for the deadlines here, you’ll have until January 22nd, 2020 to file a claim, while November 19th, 2019 is the deadline for opting out in the event you’re pursuing your own legal case against Equifax. The final hearing for the case is set for December 19th later this year, when the settlement is expected to be approved. So while you may not see any of this money for quite some time, you do have have quite a few months to ensure you can sign up and tell your friends and family to do the same.
Update, July 26th at 8:06 PM ET: It’s quite possible that these $125 payments won’t actually be $125 when all’s said and done. Read more here.
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