You can use the former to check whether you're eligible for benefits from the settlement in the first place. You'll need to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number, which is probably not information you want to be entering on an Equifax-related website, but here we are. If you already know that you're eligible, meaning your data was stolen in the breach, you can skip this step and start considering your options.
Your choice comes down to whether you want to register for long-term free credit monitoring, or a one-time $125 payout. File your claim here, or use this form to file by mail. People who were minors when the data was stolen can use this form.But which to choose? There's a decent chance that you already have free credit monitoring from other incidents, such as last fall's Marriott breach . But if you don't, it's genuinely worth considering going that route and leaving the cash, so you'll have the assurance that the monitoring is in place for a number of years.
The WIRED Guide to Data BreachesJust make sure to read the fine print! The settlement specifically allows for "at least four years of free monitoring of your credit report at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion)" and then "up to six more years of free monitoring of your Equifax credit report." That's not as comprehensive as it sounds at first. At least, though, during the four years of full monitoring from all the credit bureaus you also get $1 million in identity theft insurance. This (unfortunately) could actually come in handy, given that Social Security numbers taken from Equifax are starting to show up on the dark web, and consumers have already suffered identity theft related to the breach, according to Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro.If you already have credit monitoring or don't want it, just file for the $125 and do a Costco run.People who have already suffered identity theft or other damages as a result of the breach and have documentation to back it up are potentially eligible for up to $20,000 in compensation. "If you spent money to deal with fraud or identity theft that was fairly traceable to the Data Breach, or to protect yourself from future harm, then you can submit a claim for reimbursement," Equifax says on its breach notification website.
Safe to assume that the company will try to deny these claims wherever possible, though, so make sure you submit as much information as you can, like a police report, bank letter, or IRS statement about what happened. In addition to losses and recovery costs, you can also be reimbursed for the time you spent dealing with the fallout at a rate of $25 per hour for up to 20 hours.
One other thing to note is that these benefits stem from a massive class action against Equifax, meaning that if you are considering bringing suit separately over damages caused by the 2017 breach, don't cash in as part of this settlement.
For most people, though, this is the easiest and best way to receive some type of compensation from Equifax and make the company pay as much as possible for its unfortunate (and numerous ! truly !) errors.Updated July 26, 2019 7:00pm ET to clarify that the Equifax Settlement Website is not run by the company itself. It is run by the “Settlement Administrator.”
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