Equifax Settlement: How to Claim Your Benefits from the Class Action Lawsuit

More than 147 million people (slightly fewer than half of all Americans) were affected by a data-breach in 2017 when hackers stole personal information from Equifax (one of the three largest credit bureaus).

By
Ryan P. Cleary
in
Money Matters
January 28, 2022

Originally posted on July 29, 2019

Update 8/1/2019 at 20:52 EST: The FTC has issued a statement to say that, "A large number of claims for cash instead of credit monitoring means only one thing: each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed." At the time of publication, we advised our readers of this possibility and we continue to recommend choosing the credit monitoring option which comes with $1 million of identity theft insurance.

More than 147 million people (slightly fewer than half of all Americans) were affected by a data-breach in 2017 when hackers stole personal information from Equifax (one of the three largest credit bureaus).

In July, Equifax agreed to pay up to $700 million in restitution and fines to settle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Of the $700 million, up to $425 million will be distributed to those who were affected by the breach and whose social security numbers were exposed. You can check your eligibility and file a claim at https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com


Author’s note: This is the official link provided by the FTC. You can access it via their report by clicking here.


What are the benefits if I was affected?


If you were affected, you’ll have access to free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for up to ten years (or up to 18 years if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the breach in 2017). 


If you already have credit monitoring, you can request a payment of up to $125 instead. If you have other expenses that were caused by the breach – such as losses, account fees or from freezing credit reports – you may get a payment of up to $20,000. You may also be compensated for any time you spend dealing with the breach at a rate of $25 per hour for up to 20 hours total.


In summary, if eligible, you may receive:


  • 10 years of credit monitoring and identity theft protection with $1 million identity theft insurance OR up to $125 if you already have monitoring in place.
  • Up to $20,000 compensation for expenses related to the breach.
  • Up to $500 ($25/hr for 20 hours) compensation for time spent.
  • Free identity restoration services for at least seven years to help in cases of identity theft and fraud.


While all of this sounds great, there’s some fine print you should be aware of.


The pool of funds to pay out the $125 is limited to only $31 million. If more than 248,000 people choose this option, the amount paid per person will be diluted. This means that if 3% of the people who are eligible request this option (more than 1.47 million people) each person would receive only $7.03 from the settlement. Readers should know that this is one of the most publicized settlement cases, so it’s highly likely that the pool will be diluted. With that in mind, you may want to consider opting for the ten years of free monitoring and protection instead.

If you make any claim from the settlement or if you do nothing, you will be “releasing all of your legal claims relating to the data breach against Equifax when the settlement becomes final. By releasing your legal claims, you are giving up the right to file, or to continue to pursue, separate legal claims against or seek further compensation from Equifax for any harm related to the data breach—whether or not you are currently aware of those claims.” In plain English, this means that you’re giving up your rights to sue Equifax.

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