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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

147 million potential breaches times $125 is > $18 billion... Surely 425 million will not cover everyone getting cash... we all took the bait: hook, line and sinker...

I already submitted the claim for $125 and didn't bother submitting the claim for lost time because I figured $125 was enough. Now that I know I will get much less than the agreed upon figure I would like to go back and submit for the time lost freezing credit, etc... How do I go about filing the claim for $25/hour of lost time due to the breach?

Thank-you

You can submit a claim from www.FTC.gov/Equifax or www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com. The first page of the Equifax site lists the benefits a person could file for. The FAQ on the Equifax site have information about the benefits.

The lawyers negotiating the settlement should settle for getting free credit monitoring instead of cash for their labor and time.

I think EVERYONE should have gotten a LIFETIME of credit monitoring, simply because hackers are going to have our data for a VERY long time.

How can the FTC make the claim that " 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"? This certainly seems like a deceptive and misleading claim, unsupported by evidence.

And my time continues to be wasted!! This is unbelievable. How couldn't you foresee this coming??? This should be a separate class action!

is the free credit monitoring by Experian the Experian IdentityWorks℠ Premium? or the Experian IdentityWorks℠ Plus?

The settlement website (www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com) Frequently Asked Question #8 has information about the credit monitoring service.

I have already frozen my credit account. It's inconvenient for me, but I don't trust credit reporting companies at this point. Are you saying I cannot qualify for the $125 because I cannot prove current credit monitoring?

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax and www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com to read about the benefits that are available. You can file a claim for expenses you paid as a result of the breach, like costs to freeze and unfreeze your credit. You can file a claim for the time you spent dealing with the breach. There are other benefits to read about. The FAQ on www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com have details.

Everyone affected should have been offered LIFETIME of protection, not just a set number of years. The way this was handled is a joke. One one hand the people affected cannot get the original amount of money promised, and they aren't protected for the rest of their life unless they pay after the free period is up.

You might not be affected by the issue today, or five years from now, but that doesn't mean nothing will happen fifteen years from now. If the companies responsible for keeping this data safe isn't willing to cover the customers, they should be shut down.

Offering temporary protection is NOT the solution. Everyone affected by this should have been offered a LIFETIME of protection. It is shameful that there's now backtracking on the reimbursement that was originally offered.

If the company can't offer a lifetime of protection for those affected, then it should be shut down. Your info might not be used now, or five years from now, but it can be used fifteen years from now, and unless you're paying out of your own pocket to stay protected from someone else's mistake, then you're still stuck cleaning up their mess.

You state: "he 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." I certainly DID NOT TRUST EQUIFAX to do credit monitoring (and it was free anyway) so I paid to have Experian do credit monitoring (via USAA & Costco programs). So does that mean I am getting stiffed again and you will ONLY reimburse expenses paid TO EQUIFAX? Count me among the unhappy victims.

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to read about the benefits available to people who were affected by the breach.

Due to the fact that not only my information was compromised, because of Equifax error I had to file bankruptcy because of severe identity theft and fraud. How do I get reimbursed for that. And it totally ruined my credit score.

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to learn about benefits an affected person may claim. You may be able to file a claim for cash payments, capped at $20,000 per person, for expenses you paid as a result of the breach and for time spent dealing with the breach.

Equifax should be liquidated so $147 million injured could receive all money possible. Inexcusable, incompetence, lies and cover-ups. Consumers should be allowed to not have their credit info sent to any or all 3 bureaus.

$31,000,000 / 147,000,000 = 21 cents per person if all individuals make a cash claim claim

$31,000,000 / $125 = 248,000 claimants at full payout

That's a 0.16% claim rate, which is a ludicrous estimate by any measure. They would have needed a pool of $183.75 million to cover a 1% claim rate, which is closer to a real figure for this kind of thing.

The FTC and this settlement is a joke. You all are supposed to be looking out for the American people. Not only does this settlement not correct the harm done but the fact that you didn't anticipate that millions of the 147 million Americans who were impacted by Equifax's incompetence would seek justice is pathetic.

Sure, except I ALREADY have credit monitoring from several other breaches.

As stated by others, this is a joke! Most of us have had numerous data breaches. This one caused more damage than others and now you are telling us you won't compensate us. We are all losing faith in the system and it's inability to protect us. Own up to your mistakes and cover us in FULL!

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.

Ridiculous to advertise the $125 figure and then run out of money in a week. Utterly mis-leading and incompetent. Take my $125 and take a math class.

I had my whole bank account wiped out, I was stranded out of town for work with no money. I never had an account with Equifax nor did I agree to one, they should have never had any of my information period. I checked the link and it stated that I was affected, which I already knew before the announced the "hack". I will not accept the 125 dollars, or free credit "monitoring" is just a scam.. we should all ban together and have them shut down and pay everyone a minimum of 1 million dollars per person affected. We should not have to prove anything to get the money back. they know who was affected and who wasn't.
The breach issue has happened several times to different companies and all they give is free credit "monitoring" - also know as free "lip service".
I have read all the information in the links from the FTC and I find it disgusting that we the people are being screwed over by a company that should not even have any of our information that we did not give them. and their negligence in safeguarding that information.
You should go back to your AGs and tell them the settlement is unacceptable and to shut the company down..

Already have credit monitoring thanks to another breach - by our gov. $125 seems like a minor offering and should be honored for all who ask for it. SO, I will forego and let someone else w/o monitoring or $$ get a little something.

If only $31 million was set aside for cash payments, where is the other money going? And why isn't it going to those who file claims?

The FTC 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. Equifax will add up to $125 million to the fund if the initial payment is not enough to compensate consumers for their losses.

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.

It seems to me as though you let Equifax off easily on this problem. Why should I opt for free credit monitoring when I already monitor my credit for free? The set aside for the cash settlement was too small. It seems to me that once again, big business is given more consideration than the average consumers impacted by this breach.

I picked money because I already have multiple free credit monitoring from multiple other data breaches.

Equifax should be forced to have an opt out option for data. They have proven they can't be trusted with my data and I never gave them permission to manage it to begin with. FTC do your job and actually hold these credit monitoring companies accountable.

Can I claim the annual credit card fee that I have been paying to Capital One solely for the credit monitoring service? There are other cards that have same benefits but I chose the annual fee card for the monitoring. Will this be a valid claim?
And lo and behold what did Capital One do...they also lost my info.
...It is a joke if we will be getting a pittance as settlement in the end. Equifax is strong as ever with a $17billion market cap even after such an infraction.

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to read about the benefits you could claim if your information was exposed in the Equifax breach.

Joseph Simons is the current FTC executive. I believe it's time for him to resign. This walk-back is a disgrace.

A credit monitoring service appears to be just another way for Experian, Trans Union, Equifax, and others to monetize the data provided to them on every consumer in America.

Equifax did not protect our most important information. We trusted your company with this information. Pay us the $125 like you said, with no questions asked. We don't trust that you will keep our information safe. Who knows who now has our SS numbers, or mothers maiden name, our banks , everything. You owe us!

"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 $300 million should be used for the cash payouts rather than the too small $31 million that has been set aside. Cash payouts should have no strings attached, no requirement that a receipient have a credit monitoring service before they can get the cash.

I am disappointed in the FTC. Hard to believe that the number of people filing claims is "unexpected" when 147 million people had their data breached. They should have done a better job either negotiating a settlement or explaining the details of the supposed "$125" settlement!

WHEN SHOULD WE WILL RECEIVE OUR FUNDS

FAQ #3 at www.FTC.gov/Equifax says:

The settlement administrator will not send out any benefits until they are allowed to do so by the court, which will be January 23, 2020, at the earliest. We will update this page, and send email updates, when we have more information.

FAQ #3 at www.FTC.gov/Equifax says:

The settlement administrator will not send out any benefits until they are allowed to do so by the court, which will be January 23, 2020, at the earliest. We will update this page, and send email updates, when we have more information.

Ms. Small, Were some of the people affected by this breach using Equifax Credit Monitoring at the time of the breach?

I wonder if recipients will also have to pay income tax on the now less than $125 that they receive as compensation for the loss of their personal information.

I accepted the free credit monitoring. Now what do I do?
Is there a special website to visit to check on the monitoring ?

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.

So, I see lots of people complaining they will not get their $125. If you were hacked (I was) and did not incur any losses ($) then anything you get is a plus. People who did incur losses ($) are able to submit a claim for that amount, over and above the original $125 offer. This is not a cash grab for those you had no loss, rather reasonable reimbursement via a one-time payout (amount set by the number of people who file) *or* credit monitoring. If you read the settlement (I did) then you would have known. I choose to take the credit monitoring over the cash-grab.

I asked for free credit monitoring. Now what do I do???? I have not received any email explaining the next step. I did receive a Claim Number...Thanks

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 will be final on January 23, 2020 at the earliest.

The Settlement Administrator will provide you with an activation code and link to the Experian website where you can enroll and activate your credit monitoring services.

When does free credit monitoring start? If I am paying for credit monitoring when can I cancel paid monitoring for free monitoring?

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 on how to activate your credit monitoring once the settlement is final. The settlement will be final on January 23, 2020 at the earliest.

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