Equifax FTC Settlement: Here's what you need to know

Let’s flashback to the fall of 2017 for a moment, as Equifax revealed some rather shocking news: It had been hacked.

Yes, one of the United States’ three major credit bureaus had been breached — and nearly 150 million Americans were impacted as a result. Worst yet, this was highly confidential data, as those affected potentially had their addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and more swiped by hackers, putting them at risk of long-term identity theft. The Equifax news was enough to make many Americans uneasy — and rightfully so. And though it comes as a consolation prize if you were impacted by the data breach, you’re now privy to a piece of a $700 million settlement Equifax recently reached with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Here’s a closer look at how to determine whether or not you were affected and how to claim your comeuppance if you were:

Were You Impacted?

Hopefully, you took the necessary steps to determine if you were among the 147 million consumers potentially exposed back in 2017 and took subsequent steps to safeguard your data from there. But if you didn’t, or you just want to verify your status in the Equifax mess, it’s easy to find this information. Simply go to https://eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/en/Eligibility, put in the required information and you’ll learn in seconds whether you were among those impacted by the breach. If you were compromised, read on to the next section to figure out how to claim your settlement money.

Settlement Details

So if you’ve been affected, just how do you go about getting comeuppance for the trouble this breach has caused you? There a few different things you may qualify for:

  • $125 or free credit monitoring: Minimally, if you’ve been affected, you qualify for free credit monitoring from Equifax for up to 10 years. If you already purchased this on your own following the hack, you can file a claim for a $125 reimbursement. Don’t want credit monitoring? You can get $125. It’s worth noting that due to the high filing demand in the wake of Equifax’s FTC settlement, the $125 amount may be less than what was originally anticipated. Log on to www.equifaxdatabreachsettlement.com for information on filing. You have until January 22, 2020.
  • Up to $20,000: If you lost money due to the data breach, or went through extensive legal or accounting actions in the aftermath, you can file a claim to recoup up to $20,000 as a result. However, you’ll need to provide evidence of any money lost. You can file a claim for $25 per hour up to 20 hours for any time spent responding to the data breach. But again, you’ll be asked to submit proof of these actions that warrant reimbursement. Log on to www.equifaxdatabreachsettlement.com for information on filing. Like the situation above, you have until January 22, 2020.
  • A third option is not settling with Equifax at all and holding onto your right to take further legal action in the future by asking for exclusion. Agreeing to settlements with either of the above two scenarios, and you’re essentially signing an agreement that the matter is settled and you won’t be able to sue in the future. Not settling means you can still pursue legal action. In order to retain these rights, you have to write to Equifax requesting exclusion by November 19, 2019.

If you don’t take action on either of the three above scenarios, then you’ll lose any settlement or right to legal action in the future following the respective deadlines of November 19, 2019, and January 22, 2020.