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Equifax data breach: Pick free credit monitoring

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Just last week, the FTC and others reached a settlement with Equifax about its September 2017 data breach that exposed personal information of 147 million people. We’ve told you to go to ftc.gov/Equifax, where you can find out if your information was exposed and learn how to file a claim with the company in charge of the claims process.

The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming, and we’re delighted that millions of people have visited ftc.gov/Equifax and gone on to the settlement website’s claims form.

But there’s a downside to this unexpected number of claims. First, though, the good: all 147 million people can ask for and get free credit monitoring. There’s also the option for people who certify that they already have credit monitoring to claim up to $125 instead. But the pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million. 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.

So, if you haven’t submitted your claim yet, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead. Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year. And this monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than any you may have already, because it monitors your credit report at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies, and it comes with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services.

For those who have already submitted claims for this cash payment, look for an email from the settlement administrator. They’ll be asking you for the name of the credit monitoring service you already have. Or, if you want to change your mind, you’ll have a chance to switch to the free credit monitoring. The email from the settlement administrator will tell you what to do next, in either case. And the settlement administrator has said that the claims website will soon be updated with that information, too.

Please also note that there is still money available under the settlement to reimburse people for what they paid out of their pocket to recover from the breach. Say you had to pay for your own credit freezes after the breach, or you hired someone to help you deal with identity theft. The settlement has a larger pool of money for just those people. If you’re one of them, use your documents to submit your claim.

This blog post was clarified on August 1, 2019.

Comments

I'm not sure how useful the free credit monitoring is considering the data breach Equifax is responsible for.

Exactly what I was thinking!

That’s what I was thinking as well!

Same here! Plus Equifax will no doubt ask for even more personal information in order to do the free monitoring.

FAQ #8 states that Settlement Class Members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost. Go to www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com to learn more.

Is the FTC aware that the free credit monitoring being offered via Experian is also offered directly from Experian for free? Look at the list of features you get in the credit monitoring part of the settlement. Then go to Experian's site and look at their product offered. The Equifax settlement is basically the Experian “basic” package. Which is free to everyone. The only feature that’s part of the settlement that is not in the basic free package is identity theft insurance. So Equifax tricked the FTC in to thinking they were giving consumers something of more value than it actually is. Experian offers other products with credit reports and scores which would have actually been of value. (Approximately $20 per month X 4 years = $480). This embarrassing that no one at the FTC looked into wether or not this was a fair value for the data breach.

I have had the free Experian credit monitoring for years already, so if this is true then I am getting NOTHING more than what I have already had. What a VALUE! The free Experian monitoring is what notified me this week and last week, that someone opened new accounts in my name both times. Which of course is thanks to the breach in the first place, since this all began happening AFTER the breach! I REALLY hope we are getting more than what Concerned-C is claiming..

I've checked the Experian website and can find nothing for free. The lowest price tier for one of their "IdentityWorks" packages which includes 3 bureau monitoring is $9.99 per month for one adult. You get first 30 days for free.

The deadline to file a claim for free credit monitoring related to the settlement was January 22, 2020. 

You can still get free help recovering from identity theft and six free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website. Read more about what you can get at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

I submitted a claim and received a claim number but never received any other information.

After properly completing and submitting the form via the www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com Website -- at least 2 months ago -- I've yet to receive any information regarding the actual credit monitoring services benefits. Instead, I've received email communications instructing me to initiate the very same claim that I've already submitted.

While FTC Staff repeatedly instructs consumers to "Got to www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com to learn more" about this confusing settlement, the administrator's deficient Website and inadequate communications fail to provide such basic information as the process for actually receiving the benefits that the administrator is purportedly administrating. In other words, how does a consumer actually receive the credit monitoring services benefits promised by the FTC after completing and submitting the form???

Answer #3 of the questions and answers on www.FTC.gov/Equifax explains that if you request free credit monitoring, you will get an activation code with instructions after the court approves the final approval.  You can choose to receive this code by email or postal mail when you file your claim.

Is there an estimate as to when this will be done? Still awaiting the credit monitoring as well.

The deadline to file a claim is January 22, 2020. The settlement administrator will not send out any benefits until it is allowed to do so by the court, which will be on January 23, 2020, at the earliest. The FTC will update the information page www.FTC.gov/Equifax with new information.

How do I know what I submitted was in fact accepted, since I have not received an email. If emails are going to be sent after the enrollment deadline there's no chance to fix a problem with enrollment. Is there a way to verify enrollment in credit monitoring, before the deadline?

So, unless we pay for our own credit monitoring, we’re not protected if the initial Equifax provided Experian TrustedID coverage ends after one year from the date of acceptance on initial breach offering? I ask because I received notice from TrustedID that my coverage ends on Dec 17th. If this is true, that we have to wait until near the end of January 2020, I say we've all be breached again!

So, sometime in years future, we will be able to monitor whether damage has happened NOW from the Equifax Breach a year or more ago???? This makes absolutely no sense. I have the same experience as the person above. I filed for the credit monitoring service in JULY. I have heard nothing, and have had two different credit cards fraudulently used in the last month. This is ridiculous.

Same here!!! I applied for the monitoring and have heard nothing from Equifax. Is there going to be something done to the company if they fail to follow through with the monitoring?

Ditto. It is December 2019, and no sign of any email to activate free credit monitoring. To add insult to injury, the previous monitoring company IDNotify is now unlocking credit files and ending their service. What a joke.

I too received notification from IDNotify that monitoring credit has been discontinued as of December 2019. What a joke- most of our numbers won’t be used until these creeps know that people are now vulnerable to deceptive practices. Some people don’t have hundreds of dollars per year to correct a problem that we never created. Credit card companies used to offer coverage for a small fee per year. Since the problem has become so rampant, many have discontinued the services. The payout was more than the insurance company could keep up with.

The free credit monitoring that's available under the Equifax settlement did not start yet.

If you filed a claim for free credit monitoring under the settlement, the company that manages the settlement will send you information about how to activate your credit monitoring after the Settlement is effective. The company will send you an activation code and link to the Experian website where you can enroll and activate your Credit Monitoring Services. The settlement will be effective on January 23, 2020 at the earliest. Read more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

I submitted my claim a few month ago. I have not received any type of code or even an email that verifies the claim I submitted. Why is that??

I've been told that the effective date for the new credit monitoring services is not until after the appeal period, which could take months from now! I am stunned that Equifax was not required to extend the IDNotify coverage until the new coverage became effective. This gap is completely unacceptable, leaving consumers exposed all over again (and more vulnerable than ever). Extremely disappointed with the way this is being handled.

The effective date of the settlement does not occur until either (1) the time to file an appeal has expired and nobody has appealed or (2) all appeals are resolved by an appellate court and no more appeals may be filed. 

So, you are saying this statement in BOLD text on the settlement website is not indicating the settlement is effective? "The Settlement received final approval from the Court on January 13, 2020. You may review the Final Approval Order and Final Order and Judgment by clicking here."

The effective date of the settlement does not occur until either (1) the time to file an appeal has expired and nobody has appealed or (2) all appeals are resolved by an appellate court and no more appeals may be filed. 

so if the time for an appeal is over and the last court date was the end of january 2020 then where do the consumers stand now? if no credit monitoring then what?

From the source you linked: "Please note that none of these benefits will be distributed or available until the settlement is finally approved by the Court."

My ID Notify expired yesterday, settlement was made a few days ago, and I’ve received no emails or other form of communication regarding the four years of free monitoring. What to do?

The free credit monitoring that's available under the Equifax settlement did not start yet.

If you filed a claim for free credit monitoring under the settlement, the company that manages the settlement will send you information about how to activate your credit monitoring after the Settlement is effective. The company will send you an activation code and link to the Experian website where you can enroll and activate your Credit Monitoring Services. The settlement will be effective on January 23, 2020 at the earliest. Read more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

I filed to receive free credit monitoring months ago but haven’t received any information that it was accepted, shouldn’t I have received an email?

I also am not sure how useful the free credit monitoring is considering the data breach Equifax is responsible for.

This information should have been disclosed in your initial email about filing a claim. Not disclosing it has probably cost many people. The fact that only 31 million was set aside for cash payments is a joke. Most people don't trust these credit agencies and want nothing to do with them.

Everyone who was affected by the breach can ask for and get free credit monitoring. The settlement site (www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com) says people who were affected can ask for at least four years of free, three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian.

If you already sent a claim for the cash payment, you will get an email from the settlement administrator. They will ask you to name the credit monitoring service you already have. If you want to change your request from asking for cash payment to asking for free credit monitoring, you can do it then.

Is the FTC aware that prior to the settlement, Equifax offered victims PAID credit monitoring? They tried to profit from their own mistakes. They should liable for much more.

If you were affected by the breach, you can file a claim for a cash payment, capped at $20,000 per person, for expenses you paid as a result of the breach. You can file a claim for the cost of Equifax credit monitoring and related services you had between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, capped at 25 percent of the total amount you paid. Learn more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

so you can only get a quarter of your costs back?

The information at www.FTC.gov/Equifax says you can make a claim for cash payments, capped at $20,000 per person. When you request cash payment, you could request payment for:

1. expenses you paid as a result of the breach (read the details at www.FTC.gov/Equifax);

2. the time you spent dealing with the breach (read the details at www.FTC.gov/Equifax);

3. the cost of Equifax credit monitoring and related services you had between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, capped at 25 percent of the total amount you paid.

Bridget: Free monitoring is not a good alternative because it doesn't capture damages already incurred. The problem is that it was communicated that $125 is what will be payed out. So if someone was paying for credit monitoring previously they will not recoop those costs. Can people who have already opted into the $125 settlement now exclude themselves and from the class action lawsuit and sue to recoop those damages in small claims?

This deal is pretty atrocious that only $31 million are being awarded to 150 million affected people when the CEO has ~$20 million in bonuses.

Ken: Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to read about the benefits  - including free credit monitoring - an affected person can request. People who were affected can file a claim for cash payments, capped at $20,000 for epenses they paid as a result of the breach, for things like:

  • Losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts
  • The cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report
  • The cost of credit monitoring
  • Fees you paid to professionals like an accountant or attorney
  • Other expenses like notary fees, document shipping fees and postage, mileage, and phone charges

People can also file a claim for the cost of Equifax credit monitoring and related services you had between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, capped at 25 percent of the total amount you paid.

People can also file a claim for time they spent dealing with the breach. Read the details at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

Bridget: I've read the FAQ but free monitoring isn't particularly valuable to a lot of people and it is definitely not as valuable as this blog post implies.

I'd like to go back to my core question. If I already submitted a request for compensation, but now I'm learning I won't qualify for the full amount, am I still able to send that letter to opt-out of the class action despite having already made the request for the settlement's compensation?

I'd much rather have the option to sue Equifax in small claims than be roped into a class action settlement for a couple dollars.

You may find information about that on www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com in the FAQs (frequently asked questions).

Why do you keep dodging the question and deflecting. Just answer it.

We want to provide up to date information to the readers, so it's best to refer people to a source - like www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com - where they can get current information.

Ken, the article explains what to do if you have lost or paid out any money for protection, under those conditions you can recoup money paid out and get the 125.00 .

Why would anyone want free "credit monitoring" from the company that Lost The Info in the first place? Seems to give them much to easy a way out.

Tells companies "go ahead, and lose the data, it won't cost you much that you aren't already doing." Equifax already monitors everyone's credit as part of its normal business practices.

FAQ #8 states that Settlement Class Members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost. Go to www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com to learn more.

Experian is not the same as Equifax

I’m not sure why you think not disclosing this will “cost many people”. It says that people who already filed a claim for cash can switch it to credit monitoring.

So once again , they screw you over , Good job Equifax!

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