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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.

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).

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.

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

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.

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.

Now Capital One.. to add to the list you mentioned.. Wonder how many more big companies are going to pop up now!!

And now we get to add "Capital One" to the list. And it appears they're supposed to have "credit monitoring" as well.

EXACTLY!! My information has been breached at so many companies I practically have free monitoring for life! Having 3 or more companies monitoring my information does nothing for me. Someone should really be paying--A LOT!

I have credit monitoring through my financial agencies. It is free. Tell me how I am going to benefit from an additional credit monitoring. I have had my information exposed multiple times through several companies. Each of them offer the free monitoring. How about this, free monitoring for life for all? After all it is our information. Why should we have to pay to protect it?

How can you trust this place at all

What company(s) will provide the credit monitoring service?

The claim site, www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says this:

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.

That is in Question #8 of the Frequently Asked Questions.

So Experian is providing it?

You offer free credit monitoring but you don’t provide a way of signing up for it. This is adding insult to injury.

This blog says to go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to find out if your information was exposed and learn how to file a claim. When you go there:

  • 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.

yes i was thinking the same. i also think we should be given the option to freeze our credit at no cost!

You can freeze your credit at no cost. This FTC article about credit freezes tells how to place them, how to lift them, and gives contact information for the three major credit reporting agencies.

I had to pay to freeze my credit after equifax’s breach...has something changed and now it’s free?

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to check if you were affected by the Equifax breach and learn about filing a claim.

If your information was exposed in the Equifax breach, you can file a claim for expenses you paid because of the breach. You can file a claim for paying for things like the cost of credit monitoring, freezing & unfreezing your credit reports, or losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts.

Yes, they do. It's one of the options when you go to the Experian breach site. I chose the credit monitoring.

Yes they do. I’ve already signed up for the 4 years by all three credit bureaus and another 6 years through EQUIFAX afterwards for a total of 10 years. You just can’t do it from this “blog”. A blog is just informational only. Not intended for official business. Go to the FTC government site and you can do it as I did.

I clicked on the link to ftc.gov/equifax (in the blue letters in this blog) and filled out the form to see if my info was impacted by the data breach. It was, and a page came up offering the free credit monitoring or the cash payment. It was actually quick and easy to understand and get signed up.

I chose the credit monitoring as it is guaranteed, as opposed to the pay out which may not be. And if you really think about it, the value of the 3 credit bureau monitoring is worth more than $125.

This is unacceptable. The court and Equifax knew there were 147 million claimants. Why offer $125 per claim and set aside only $31 million? Did someone forget to do the math?

I was just thinking the EXACT SAME THING! How does Equifax figure this is ok to state you didn’t set aside enough monies to compensate 147 million people that were impacted by this breach? This is not acceptable at all.

I agree. I think they should HAVE to give free monitoring, plus if your info is used by someone besides you they should HAVE TO PAY FOR IT ALL, plus make SURE your credit IS NOT harmed!!

Credit monitoring is a joke. I have at least 4 entities providing me with credit monitoring because of security breaches. You only learn about the bogus account after something has happened. Next time, get enough money from the offending agent to fairly compensate people, monetarily, for the time spent freezing accounts, etc. and worrying about what was going to happen next. Clearly, $31 million was not a satisfactory penalty for a security breach at a Credit Reporting Agency, who waited months to let us know the breach had even occurred.

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