In October 2017, I had to deal with the grueling process of getting a new credit card and debit cards, changing my passwords, freezing my credit and signing up for a credit monitoring service. I was a victim of identity fraud, and I soon discovered that I was one of the nearly 150 million people whose data was compromised by the 2017 Equifax Data Breach.
Two years later, and we finally have some good news! The Federal Trade Commission just announced that Equifax has agreed to a global settlement, which includes compensation to anyone affected by the data breach. If you file a claim, you can obtain free credit monitoring (for 4 years for all three bureaus and 10 years for Equifax) OR if you already have credit monitoring, you can claim $125.
In addition, if you had to spend time dealing with fraudulent activity due to the breach, you are eligible for $25 per hour spent, up to 20 hours. The form requires you to provide some details about your time, but you only have to provide supporting documentation if you are claiming 11 - 20 hours.
Finally, if you lost money due to fraudulent charges or incurred any expenses due to the data breach, you can submit claims for those expenses.
While consumers are entitled to the promised funds, the amount that will end up being distributed is limited by the settlement terms. If more people make claims than they have the final payments will be proportionally decreased.
If you aren't sure if you were affected by the breach, you can check by clicking here or by calling 1-833-759-2982.
Are you ready to file a claim or interested in learning more? This FTC page provides details and links to the legitimate website for filing your claim. We recommend using this website as your jumping-off point; the page is trusted, and we don't need to remind you to always be cautious when providing your personal information online.
No matter whether you were affected by the breach, here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud:
- Freeze your credit. Find out more in our guide.
- Regularly monitor your credit. You are entitled to one free credit report from each bureau per year, and you can also sign up for a credit monitoring service (some are free!).
- Practice good online habits. Read more in our blog.
- Shred your sensitive documents. Come to our Shred Event in August!