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  4. The Equifax Data Breach Settlement: What You Need To Know
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In September of 2017, Equifax announced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. The company has agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 50 U.S. states and territories. The settlement includes up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach.

If you’re one of the 147 million people who were affected by the Equifax data breach back in September 2017, there’s some reprieve: You can be compensated up to $20,000 if your information was compromised.

On July 22, 2019, Equifax agreed to a settlement of up to $425 million to help some 150 million consumers affected. This settlement is starting with $300 million and $125 million will be added if those funds run out.

The FTC recently began the online claims process where you either fill out an online form or print one out and then send it in to claim some of the settlement money. The deadline to submit is January 22, 2020.

Before filing a claim, read on to find out what you need to know.

What The Claim Covers

First, head to the Equifax breach settlement website’s look-up tool to see if your data was compromised.

If so, you have a few options:

  • $125 cash payment or free credit monitoring– You can request $125 in cash if you already have credit monitoring or you can elect to receive up to 10 years of free credit monitoring (4 years through Experian and up to 6 years with Equifax). It’s worth noting that the FTC is recommending people take the credit monitoring because there’s been such a large response to the cash offer that the cash payment will be much lower than $125. Apparently, they had only set aside $31 million for the cash payments. According to the FTC, the settlement administrator will be asking you what credit monitoring service you already use as well.
  • Reimbursement for time loss– If you’ve spent time dealing with the Equifax data breach, you can claim up to 20 hours for your time at $25 per hour. You need to write out the actions you took if you claim less than 10 hours and submit supporting documents if you claim over 10 hours.
  • Partial reimbursement– You may be able to be reimbursed up to 25% for fees you paid for Equifax credit monitoring or identity theft protection services.
  • Reimbursement for monetary loss– If you experienced fraud or losses as a result of the breach or you’ve incurred any out-of-pocket expenses like paying to freeze your credit reports, you can claim up to $20,000. In order to receive reimbursement for monetary loss, you’ll need proof such as receipts and other types of supporting documents.

How To Make A Claim

Before submitting a claim, you’ll want to figure out what kind of claim you want to file. You have some time to assess what you want to do, but at the very least consider the free credit monitoring option if you don’t have it already (like Rocket HomesSM). If you do have credit monitoring already, then you should consider filing a claim for $125.

For those who want to claim compensation for time or monetary loss, take some time to gather up any supporting documents so you can provide ample proof when filling out the claims form. When doing so, keep a copy of the completed claims form and any documents you submitted.

However, if you believe your personal damages exceed $20,000 as a result of the Equifax data breach, you may want to opt out of the settlement class and speak to an attorney about your actions moving forward. That’s because Equifax will only reimburse consumers up to $20,000 under this class action settlement.

Whatever you choose, make sure to weigh all the pros and cons carefully before pressing the submit button.

What Happens If You Do Nothing?

You could give up your right to sue Equifax in the future in addition to any financial compensation or free credit monitoring. The deadline to make a claim is January 22, 2020 and the deadline to opt out of the class action settlement is November 19, 2019.

However, there are still services consumers are entitled to even if they don’t officially file a claim. This includes up to six additional free credit reports each year from Equifax up to 2021. You can also get assisted identity restoration services for the next 7 years or more. Call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982 if you think you’re a victim of fraud as a result of the breach.

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