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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

Ummm, no it's not, it's offered for free by lots of banks and credit card companies. Are you an experian employee? It's easy and cheap for them to provide credit monitoring. That's why they agreed to do it. To convince these companies, it needs to hit their bank accounts with real money payments to real people.

How soon you get your 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.

Honestly, even if they had the 18+ Billion that it would take to pay everyone the $125 does anyone really feel like that is enough? I sure as heck wouldn’t sign up to sell my data for that measly sum. The only compensation of value to the citizens of this country is a change in the system. The government needs to do their duty and start protecting its people and they need to do it proactively.

My thoughts exactly. Maybe they thought more people would take part in the free credit monitoring? I, myself, receive free monitoring through Chase and Capital One. I think this is bogus to not offer the full compensation to those of us that already have this.

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!!

This whole “settlement” is an absolute joke. Equifax has gotten away with nothing more than a pinch on the cheek and consumers have once again gotten the shaft. Why would anyone trust Equifax, or any other company, with our personal information again? Consumer protection is no longer part of the government vocabulary. We should have a choice and be allowed to completely shut off these companies access to our personal and credit information, especially when they have committed such criminal conduct. Instead, the companies like Equifax make sweet heart deals with expensive lawyers and the government, then walk away.

In and around 2015 & 2016 my peronal information was taken in three separate U.S. OPM database breaches. Credit monitoring was offered to the tens of millions of federal employees affected. The monitoring required the input of all information released and asked for some that was not. Two issues arose:

First, the credit monitoring company refused despite several attempts to provide me the specifics what the monitoring system did to aid me/pay for problems if my stolen information was misused. Examples: If my bank account was emptied I was told that not thier responsibility but the bank's; If my credit card being monitored was misuded that was a credit card company issue. The credit monitoring provider refused to provide me a written statement of their coverage and assistance. Specific queries should it to be negligible and unavailable until the worst possible time -- when a crisis occurs related to the ID theft.

2. Naturally, the credit monitoring company stated their database was totally secure from an ID theft hack. Critical as all my information is in their system. Problem: No database is totally secure. Such systems appear to be a potential giant candy jar for hackers and the compensation and coverage inadequate to address the financial and ID loss to those participating. I removed my data. I have secured it via credit freezes. I have informed the IRS of the ID theft to prevent misuse of tax returns. These and other ID theft safeguards need to be directly relayed to those affected by the data breach by Equifax and required by the FTC.

The FTC penalty and responsibilty of Equifax for the data breach and its affect on tens of millions of Americans is grossly inadequate. Credit monitoring has severe flaws. Compensation of $125 in lieu of credit monitoring or $20,000 in assistance to aid in those dealing with problems is inadequate and a disservice to those affected. We are left with a lifetime of concern and hassle. People can change their credit cards, change their bank accounts, but we cannot change our social security numbers, health insurance card numbers, etc. A penalty of $750 million is a pittance for the each of those affected and the potential consequences to consumers. Further, the FTC penalty puts the onus on those whose data was stolen to take legal action against Equifax if needed to recoup losses.

To address these issues I suggest the FTC require Equifax at their own expense: 1. to automatically send everyone affected on an annual basis a free copy of their credit report, 2. to send everyone affected clear succinct guidance on how to safequard their identity and credit data, 3) Those opting for credit monitoring be sent specific written information on what services and coverage is provided by the credit monitoring company.

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.

Equifax is not, and has never been, the consumer's friend. Equifax serves the creditor community. Equifax is notoriously unresponsive to debtors who have legitimate grievances. Now it is attempting to renege on the AGREEMENT with the FTC to compensate its victims - errrr, I mean consumers - for its failure to safeguard information which no consumer ever agreed it should collect on him. The information Equifax was so careless with is still out there and will be out there for the rest of the lives of every consumer victimized. $125 is small enough, too small in fact to be an adequate compensation. Now Equifax wants consumers to take less. OK, let's throw out the deal. Let's have a new agreement where Equifax pays more to compensate consumers for their present loss and future loss, worry and aggravation. Perhaps Equifax should be dissolved and its assets divided among its victims.

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.

So again, useless. Thanks for nothing FTC.

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.

So you are going to monitor all three (3) credit bureaus each month and email these to me? Do you know my email address?

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.

You are missing the point. 147 million people were affected. Yet only $31 million allotted for the $125 cash payment. That is enough for 248,000 people then it is gone. 248,000 is less than 1 percent of the 147 million people. Why are the states, D.C, and PR splitting $175 million? Did their data get compromised? Why pay the CFPB $100 million? That money could be given to the PEOPLE. That $306 million would increase the number of $125 payments available to 2,448,000. which would still only be 1.7% of the 147 million affected.

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.

 

Yes, if all of the 176M filed for money, it would only amount to $0.18 cents. RIDICULOUS. Why advertise $125 when it is false. And beyond that, many of us DO already have monitoring- my bank provides it to me at no cost. I should NOT have to do more research and find MORE information for you to prove I have it. If I'd rather have a payout, it should be simple. I have spent enough time on this process as it is, only to get a laughable amount what was first requested. But If I had saved receipts and paid out money then there is a LOT more there for me. RIDICULOUS. Typical FTC.

Yesterday I was told I will $125.00. Today I am told I will get nowhere near that amount. I just find it hard to believe the FTC could do this.

this is a slap in the face. equifax needs to be liquidated.

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.

Frankly, no one wants credit monitoring services from a company that can't protect their information. Divert the money from the "credit monitoring" fund to give people cash. Make it right with the consumers. Equifax is getting off too easily. Shame on you, FTC. Do right by Americans and stop protecting this business.

Do consumers have the option of preserving their right to sue in the event they fall victim to identity theft in the future? I don't agree this resolution is sufficient and do not wish to waive my rights here.

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??

So the $300 million is essentially going to Experian to cover the costs of the service?! Because that seems to be the implication. People are really losing out on this considering many already have credit monitoring plans as a result of other frequent breaches. This was handled incredibly poorly and the real winner seems to be Experian NOT the consumer.

The $300 million will cover more than the cost of four years' enrollment for people, including identity theft insurance and full identity restoration service. It will also cover alternative reimbursement payments to people of up to $125, claims for out of pocket losses, and more. Read the Complaint for details. 

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?

I already have paid monitor service with Experian and just renewed for another year a few weeks ago. I would like to go with the free security offer, what should I do now? Can I still opt for the free? Don't know if Experian will reimburse me I will have to call them.

Then it sounds like the settlement needs to be increased! We victims have a right to our legitimate claims. Make them pay. This is total BS.

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.

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