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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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

You need to update the settlement email address with a valid email account.

Are you referring to the email address in this blog?

The email address in the post is "info@EquifaxBreachSettlement". This is not a valid email address.

Sorry - Info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.  Thanks for the heads up.

You gave an incorrect email address! Are people who used it, now exposed to more fraud? How long would this have continued with out the heads up given, by this person? The level of incompetence is unbelievable! Equifax, also, gave an incorrect address after the breach. Ironic!

We initially had an incomplete email address that didn't give people enough information to send a message.

I am a widow, almost 70 years old and blind. I do not want monitoring. I want money which I have none of at this time. Are you sure Equifax is just not wanting to pay?

Seems like Equifax is getting off too easy for the mess they made. Again. Sounds like negotiators for Equifax out-danced the other side! People need to see real compensation for this stuff. Has not happened -- thus companies recklessly keep dropping the ball over and over again.

I agree totally. This settlement is a joke. Nobody wants more free credit monitoring, every breach offers this.

i have free credit monitoring through my bank

Right ..Which I trust the bank credit monitoring more then Equifax monitoring .
Our information is already out there an it could be used at anytime. Equifax should be paying more to the people affected by the breach. Who’s going to help you 2-3 yrs. down the road with credit fraud . I don’t want Equifax monitoring my credit.

So how do I sign up for the credit monitoring option?

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to find out if your information was exposed and learn how to file a claim. When you are on www.FTC.gov/Equifax:

  • Click on the blue button at the top of the page that says File a Claim.
  • You will be directed to www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.
  • Choose how you want to submit a claim: online, by downloading a paper form, or by having a paper form mailed to you.

Why would you Use the same company that lost your info in the first place to protect you after? That is like having someone that had keys to your home and lost the keys be the same person to install the alarm system??? WHAT you already lost my trust. From spending a decade in risk management I already feel like Chicken Little explaining the horrific problem people face after events like these and now they are common place just look to Capital ONE this week!

Extremely well put! You hit the nail on the head.

I'm confused. Equifax is responsible for the breach. Experian would be providing the free credit monitoring. I'm pretty uniformed about these companies. Are Experian and Equifax the same?

FAQ #8 on the settlement website www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says Settlement Class Members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four (4) years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost.

Free credit monitoring does not add any value for those of us that are already subscribed to free credit monitoring from other recent data breaches. It seems apparent that the fines and the money set aside for cash payments are inadequate. I suspect the FTC is unaware of how many of us have previously had our data stolen through Home Depot, Target, Fed Govt., etc. My data has been compromised numerous times and I've received numerous free credit monitoring compensations. Frankly, it's all getting pretty tiresome. Fine these companies A LOT and give that money to the consumers whose data has been compromised. Credit monitoring is a joke.

Exactly this.

I started looking through my old email, and I see - Anthem, Target, Home Depot, OPM, Kickstarter, to name a few, plus free monitoring I already get from my credit union and various credit cards. Probably more that I never got an email notice about.

Pretending this free monitoring has any real value to most people is ridiculous.

We get our identity stolen & offered free identity theft protection?? Isn't that how our identity got stolen to begin with my trusting people to take care of that for us? Yeah I think I'll pass on that free protection myself! Then get offered chump change for that trust we put in someone and to me it's kind of like somebody cutting your head off and then offering you a Band-Aid! Someone needs to be held accountable I mean really!

I completely agree! It's ridiculous that these settlements amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist to these companies, yet they put us consumers at risk for potentially the rest of our lives! There should be no "settlements". This continual behavior needs to be dealt with by mandatory penalties (paid to the consumers) that "hurt" these businesses.

This is my situation two. I already have three years of credit monitoring from another hack and I bought LifeLock earlier this year just to be extra safe. I signed up for the cash to help pay for LifeLock that I already purchased. If they don't want so many people taking the cash then they should make the credit monitoring redeemable at a later date. Such as, sign up for the monitoring now but you can wait a year, three years, or whenever your current monitoring expires before signing up for this one.
And the other irritating thing is that Experian and all these other companies use these credit monitoring programs to try to upsell to you their other paid services.

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