What is the Equifax settlement about? One year ago, some 147 million consumers learned their personal data was exposed by the credit monitoring service Equifax. Actually, probably many of you didn’t bother to learn if you were affected, but it’s important that you do.
In August, government regulators announced they have reached a settlement with Equifax to provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers affected by the breach. Equifax will put up $380.5 million for a Consumer Restitution Fund initially, but also may have to add $125 million if that fund is depleted. Even those not affected by the breach are eligible to receive up to 6 free copies of their Equifax credit report during any 12-month period for the next seven years, starting in 2020.
A blog post from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau provides an outline of all of the other monetary awards, services and protections provided by the Equifax settlement. If you don’t know if you were affected, you can check here by submitting your last name and the last 6 digits of your Social Security number.
For Those Affected by the Equifax Security Breach
Consumers affected by the Equifax Security Breach are eligible for at least 10 years of free credit monitoring service, plus at least 7 years of identity restoration, also for free, if you are a victim of identity theft. If you choose to use a different credit monitoring service, you could be reimbursed up to $125 for that cost. However, if a large number of claims are filed, that amount could be reduced substantially.
Affected consumer also could be eligible for up to $20,000 for time and money lost repairing damage from the breach. This is an over of the Equifax settlement
- Payment of up to $25 per hour for up to 20 hours of your personal time spent protecting your personal information or dealing with identity theft that might have occurred after the security breach. Again, this is an amount that could be reduced if a great number of claims are filed and approved by independent administrators managing the settlement.
- Reimbursement for funds spent to purchase credit monitoring or identity protection services in the wake of the breach.
- Reimbursement for the cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report with any other credit reporting agency or agencies.
- Refund of up 25 percent of any money you paid to Equifax for credit monitoring or identity protection services from Sept. 1, 2016, through Sept. 1, 2017.
- Payout of any losses, costs, expenses or charges you have not already been reimbursed for as a result of identity theft.
- Payment for any other expenses you might have incurred not mentioned above, such as telephone, fax, notary public, postage or mileage charges.
What You Need to Do to Access Benefit from the Equifax Settlement
A series of deadlines have been set up for filing claims or opting out of the Equifax Settlement. The first deadline actually is for those who wish to opt out of the settlement, which leaves you free to pursue your own lawsuit against the company should you so choose. The opt-out deadline is Nov. 19, 2019. If you wish to object to or comment on the settlement, you also must do that by Nov. 19, 2019.
- A Jan. 22, 2020, deadline has been set for those who wish to file for monetary claims for lost time and money dealing with the fallout of the security breach and those seeking a refund for the monitoring service in the 2016-17 timeframe. That same date also is the deadline to file for the free credit monitoring service.
- A second deadline of Jan. 22, 2024, has been set for those who incur future lost time or money as a result of the breach.
- No deadlines has been established for access to identity restoration services, as this service will be available for at least 7 years if you become a victim of identity theft in the coming years.
If you do nothing before the Jan. 22 deadline, you still will be eligible for identity restoration service if you become an identity theft victim, but you will not be able to apply for the 10 years of credit monitoring or for reimbursement of any expenses you incur.
Equifax Settlement: Bottom Line
We want to see everyone remaining financially safe and sound, so we encourage you to check to see if you have been affected by the Equifax security breach and if you are entitle to an Equifax settlement. Those affected should be prepared to file their claims for monetary damages by the Jan. 22, 2020, deadline and certainly to sign up for the 10 years of free credit monitoring.
We also hope everyone not affected by the security breach takes advantage of the free credit reports, which are in addition to your free credit report that you can apply for once per year from the three major credit monitoring services.