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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

The FTC reached a settlement with Equifax for 425 million...........but knew there were over 147 million affected consumers. now I get an Email stating that we will get almost nothing....does not take a frikin math genius to figure that out. Why not try a little harder to get some real resolution to this matter, like the 5 billion that Facebook settled for? Really disappointed that the FTC that is supposed to be a govt. watchdog has rolled over more like a 3 week old kitten.

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to read about the benefits you may claim, including:

  • up to 10 years of credit monitoring
  • identity theft insurance
  • cash payments for expenses you paid as a result of the breach, capped at $20,000 per person
  • free identity restoration services for at least seven years
  • starting in 2020, six free credit reports per year for 7 years from the Equifax website. Those are in addition to the one free Equifax, Experian and TransUnion reports you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.

I paid for extra credit monitoring and credit freeze services when I learned my info was affected by the Equifax breach. If I choose to document the expenses I incurred because of the breach, can I still opt for the 10 years of credit monitoring and ID theft insurance?

Please read the FAQ on the settlement website www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com. FAQ#8 Credit Monitoring Services says " You may make a claim for both reimbursement for Out-of-Pocket Losses and/or Time Spent, and Credit Monitoring Services." and tells the deadline to do that: The deadline for all claims for Credit Monitoring Services is 01/22/2020.

FAQ #7 has details about payment for time spent and out of pocket expenses.

Really? How could anyone rely on Equifax for credit monitoring?

Under the settlement, you can request four years of free credit monitoring from Experian.

Equifax will pay $300 million into a fund that will pay Experian to provide the first four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services. If you request four years of Experian monitoring, you can also request six additional years of one-bureau monitoring by Equifax. There are other benefits for people whose information was exposed in the breach. Learn more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax and www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

Email address doesn't work for me.

The correct email is Info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com

I already have free credit monitoring thanks to the OPM breach. This fine is nowhere near enough restitution.

Where do you sign up for the free credit monitoring?

1. Before you ask for free credit monitoring, go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax.  Use the look-up tool to find out if your information was exposed.

2. If your information was exposed, go back to www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

  • Click on the blue button at the top 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.

I'm concerned Equifax may have lost my data without Equifax being aware of it. What are my rights in that case?

This settlement is a joke. The only thing your doing is guaranteeing millions of customers to Equifax. The company that screwed everyone over in the first place. How does this help the people that have already lost things that are irreplaceable? Such as being denied a first home owners loan or losing their house because the Irs held their income tax because they couldn't verify their identity? What are you gona do for us??

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to learn about the benefits that are available. You can file a claim for cash payments, capped at $20,000 per person, for:

  • expenses you paid as a result of the breach, like losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts, costs to freeze or unfreeze your credit report; see details at www.FTC.gov/Equifax;
  • the time you spent dealing with the breach; you can be compensated $25 per hour for up to 20 hours; see details at www.FTC.gov/Equifax;
  • 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.

This is absolutely ridiculous to only fine Equifax $31MM for compensatory damage payments to 176MM people. No one wants or trusts their credit monitoring. We want to be made whole in an amount reflective of the worst data breach in history.

 There is money available under the settlement to reimburse people for what they spent to recover from the breach. For example, you may file a claim for money you spent to place credit freezes after the breach, or hire someone to help you deal with identity theft. The settlement has a larger pool of money for people who had those expenses. If you’re one of them, use your documents to submit your claim.

Question: once you've filled out the form, if you're harmed by the breached information in the future, can you still apply for these reinbursements? Or have you waived that as soon as you fill out the settlement form? The fact that our SSOs are public information now isn't something that only affects us for two years.

Under the settlement, every person (including people who do not file a claim) can get free help recovering from identity theft for at least seven years. If you find out that someone misused your personal information, in the future, you can call the company that is managing the settlement at 1-833-759-2982. The company will tell you how to get the free identity restoration services.

 

I had the credit monitoring initially after the problem was identified, but I am not sure if I still have it. After the data was exposed, I received a report from each of the agencies as suggested, and I froze the accounts. Then I promptly paid off my one credit card in full and cancelled any credit accounts I had with retail stores. Is there any reason to have credit monitoring if I froze and cancelled all accounts? I would rather have cash and never have anything to do with any of these agencies again.

Can anyone explain how the purported $575MM suddenly evaporated leaving just $31MM to pay claims? Something just doesn't smell right here.

This FTC press release has more details about the settlement:

Equifax to Pay $575 Million as Part of Settlement with FTC, CFPB, and States Related to 2017 Data Breach.

The press release explains that, as part of the proposed settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. The fund will also compensate consumers who bought credit or identity monitoring services from Equifax and paid other out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the 2017 data breach. The company also has agreed to pay $175 million to 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as $100 million to the CFPB in civil penalties.

Learn more about the settlement at www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com in the FAQs.

Seems to me that if the settlement monies were designated to monitoring versus cash in the wrong proportions given what consumers want or need, then the allocation of funds in the settlement should be changed to provide more to the cash option. The actual data breach happened two years ago and is just one of many, did the FTC honestly think that most people aren't already monitoring their credit??

Maybe everyone submitting claims already has credit monitoring from the last ten companies that have leaked their data without consequence.

If the number of claims for cash reimbursement for this data breach has exhausted the $31M allocated in the settlement, perhaps the FTC should have pushed for a larger amount?

the data breach destroyed my credit credit report my life is not the same any more my macys account destroyed amazon account destroyed my capital one account destroyed i dont want any more credit card in my life is destroyed

How about free credit monitoring AND the measly $125 compensation? If Equifax can buy and sell our data without consent and then lose it into the ether due to poor security protocols, it's the least they can do. Slaps on the wrists don't encourage these crooks to make any significant reforms to the way they handle our data.

I dont think i have to disclose who i use for my credit monitoring. Who i use is my business.

WASTE OF OUR TIME!!!

I submitted my online claim summary today. When does the clock start ticking for the 4 yr monitoring? And, just to confirm, after that ends, then I will be given an option to be monitored for 6 add'l years by one of the three credit bureau services?

Frequently Asked Question #19 on the settlement website www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says if you make a valid claim for credit monitoring services, the Settlement Administrator will send you information about how to activate your credit monitoring after the settlement is final. The Settlement Administrator 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 final on January 23, 2020 at the earliest.

If you make a valid claim and enroll in credit monitoring services, you can choose to enroll in up to six years of one-bureau credit monitoring services provided by Equifax that would start after the three-bureau credit monitoring services end. You must opt in for the one-bureau services when you submit your claim for credit monitoring services, and you will get instructions for how to enroll in the one-bureau monitoring before your three-bureau credit monitoring services end.

In the early days after the breech, Equifax asked for my personal information to inform me that I was indeed affected. NOW when they again ask for my personal information to check my eligibility for the settlement, surprise! turns out they claim I wasn't affected after all. Why on earth would I should believe them?

What about those who applied for compensation for the hours they spent taking care of the problems? It was to be $25/hour.—has that “disappeared,” too?

We had our acct. blocked and later it was unblocked,not by us,and caused much problems.We were lucky,bank called us first before a loan was granted.

I tried to contact the Settlement people, but the link provided did not work!

How is a $700 million dollar settlement set to use only $31 million for cash settlement. Sounds like FTC covering for another big business failure at the expense of those who were affected by this breach

This FTC press release has more details about the settlement: Equifax to Pay $575 Million as Part of Settlement with FTC, CFPB, and States Related to 2017 Data Breach.

The press release explains that, as part of the proposed settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. The fund will also compensate consumers who bought credit or identity monitoring services from Equifax and paid other out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the 2017 data breach. The company also has agreed to pay $175 million to 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as $100 million to the CFPB in civil penalties.

There is more information about the settlement in the FAQs at www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

"Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. "

Does this mean Equifax will be paying itself $300 million to monitor people's credit? Maybe, since most people chose the other option, they could instead spend less money on that fund and more money on paying $125 per person AS WAS PROMISED.

Equifax will pay $300 million into a fund that will pay Experian to provide the first four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services. If you request four years of Experian monitoring, you can also request six additional years of one-bureau monitoring by Equifax. There are other benefits for people whose information was exposed in the breach. Learn more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax and www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

Why don’t you ask the 48 states, DC, and Puerto Rico if they want to opt for free credit monitoring instead of their cash payments? That would free up more funds for the actual victims in this case.

These lawsuits are set up for the attorneys to make money, not the claimants.

I can get free credit monitoring without Equifax's help. Pretty misleading "settlement."

What is the purpose of them emailing to ask who I used for credit monitoring? It's none of their business, especially since they are an entity that has already been careless with data. Are they going to only pay out to people who give them the name of a company or prove that they use credit monitoring?

in fact, the credit monitoring I had (until recently) *was* Equifax, which is why I find myself in this fix to begin with! So no thanks, give me my $125 and let me be on my way before anything else happens.

Agreed. I won't be providing this company with my information. They already have too much of it as it is.

Of note: Yesterday's FTC blog post was about the Capital One data breach. Today's is about the Equifax breach. Instead of getting us free credit monitoring (which provides us exactly zero avenues of prevention of loss and only avenues of recompense), why doesn't the FTC advocate for Americans by implementing meaningful fines and punishments on companies as a means to deter these leaks. The best data breach is the one that doesn't happen and companies clearly won't be bothered to do anything about these incidents until they are held meaningfully accountable.

It appears that there are some added benefits included with the credit monitoring as opposed to the multiple instances of data breaches resulting in just credit monitoring from the past. However, considering the extent of the damage one would hope that Equifax would be required to provide lifetime monitoring with all the associated benefits mentioned. The threat isn't going away even after your dead it just won't matter to you afterward although it might for your family.

Corporations left to their own devices will always take the short cut solution. Market solutions only benefit the businesses and seldom result in anything positive for consumers outside of saving a few pesos on whatever trinkets you're buying.

Honestly ridiculous I’ve been harassed by all kinds of scams hospitals personal medical information breached,I already suffer from identity theft and now this very disappointed. I’m going to seek legal counsel I’m not agreeing to anything this just put me in a deeper and more serious situation.

I was not comfortable using the link to see if I was one of the millions who was affected by the breach. They wanted too much personal information.

This is a disgrace. I don't want the credit monitoring of a company that has demonstrated they cannot be trusted with data. It's like getting food poisoning from a restaurant and being offered more free food.

I filed clams for both my wife and myself and opted for the credit monitoring. Will we be eligible for monthly credit reports from Experian? I wasn’t sure. When will we hear from the administrator? December/January?

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