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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 chose the free credit monitoring option-my questions is how do I know when it goes into effect? Is Equifax supposed to notify me? I am hesitant to cancel my paid credit monitoring service until I know the Equifax option is in effect.

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 earliest the settlement will be final is January 23, 2020.

The Settlement Administrator will send you an activation code and link to the Experian website. You can enroll and activate your credit monitoring services on the Experian website.

If you enroll in three-bureau credit monitoring services from Experian, you can also choose to enroll in up to six years of one-bureau credit monitoring services from Equifax that would start after the Experian services end. You must choose the one-bureau Equifax services when you make your claim for credit monitoring services. If you choose to get the Equifax services after the three-bureau services end, you will get instructions for how to enroll in the one-bureau Equifax services before the three-bureau  services end.

When I'm already utilizing the services of two credit monitoring services as a result of previous data breaches (looking at you OPM) and will be awaiting yet another offer of credit monitoring from Capital One, I'm sure you will understand how total worthless this offer from Equifax truly is and how abysmally ridiculous the settlement offer was.

I’ve gone onto all the sites recommended and still can’t fund where I sign up for free credit monitoring. After providing the 6 numbers of my SSN, was told I wasn’t impacted. Oh, really? All four of my credit cards have been hacked 2-4 times so far.

This is a freaking joke. Equifax exposed sensitive data of over half the country's populace - I certainly won't trust their credit monitoring service. I have no desire to do any business with them, period. This is the kind of thing that SHOULD kill a company.

That is not right what about the people like me who already has credit monitoring through Equifax! I am already paying for a family plan which is nearly $30 dollars a month? There would be nothing for me to opt into unless my money would get reimbursed back to me and that would sum up over the $125 payment. Not right at all make it even worse I already have a freeze on my credit with all of the Credit bureaus and I have a lock on all of the social securities in my house hold. Does not make sense am I the only person who can see something wrong with this?

The FTC information at www.FTC.gov/Equifax explains that if your information was exposed in the Equifax breach, you can file a claim for cash payments for expenses you paid as a result of the breach and time you spent dealing with the breach.

You can file a claim for expenses like the cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report and the cost of credit monitoring. Your claim for the cost of Equifax credit monitoring and related services you had between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, is capped at 25 percent of the total amount you paid. Learn more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

Sure they will monitor my credit, but how many months will it take for them to inform me if there is an issue? It took them months just to figure out there was a breach. I have no trust in Equifax. Just give me the $125 so I can be done with them.

As other commenters pointed out, it looks like FTC failed consumers in agreeing to only a $31 million “Alternative Reimbursement Compensation Cap.” Free credit monitoring isn’t “worth a lot more” when so many financial service companies already provide it in banking and credit card accounts.

Glad to see FTC and CFPB at least still have the lights on, but is anybody home? (FTC, there’s no need to provide links to the same websites over again in response.)

Why would any American/Canadian affected by the breach accept free credit monitoring from Equifax who let this happen due to outdated systems? They have zero credibility! All I want is their money for allowing this to happen which is their main job. They can keep their WORTHLESS credit monitoring! How ironic! Ask me, close the place and have just Experian and TransUnion who never had his happen to 1/2 of American adults!

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

Equifax will pay $300 million into a fund that will pay Experian to provide the 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 was my comment not posted? Is the FTC practicing censorship? I simply said why is it that the attorneys are getting paid, the government is getting paid but the people who were harmed aren’t?

You are asking people to take free credit monitoring, and saying it is "probably better than what they already have". Have you considered the backlash from those companies people are already buying monitoring from? You are asking them to leave a company they have been with, and saying the company they are with is probably not that "good"....think about that. Not a smart thing to say. Maybe Equifax should not have been let off so easily, most people I know already have credit monitoring.

How can I request that Equifax completely delete my personal information?

They reply yo every post but where is the reply to THIS?? How can we stop these companies from having our information in the first place? I dont want random c com companies with access to my SS#. No one should be allowed access to this without my consent and worse if they screw with it 125.00 isn't how much they should be charged.

Two federal laws cover different aspects of how companies can share your financial information: the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). Read the FTC article Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information to learn what you can do about information sharing.

I have 2 credit monitoring items FREE from my credit card companies. It sucks that just because you can't do your job well we get the short end of the stick.

Very poor job FTC. Equifax should have been forced to disband and the CEO should be held personally liable.

The FTC mislead consumers regarding the settlement. I no longer want to be part of the settlement. I demand an opt out option since I was provided incomplete information to sign up. As far as the monitoring, I already have monitoring because of prior data breaches. The FTC should be ashamed of its shady dealings.

Where can I get more information about the " $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services"? What do the insurance and services cover? Who is offering them? How long do I get them?

I note that the settlement site currently doesn't even mention these supposed features when describing the cash vs. monitoring options.

The settlement website is www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

Go to the FAQs (frequently asked questions) to learn about the identity theft insurance (FAQ #8) and free identity restoration services (FAQ #11).

The settlement website also has a link to important documents, including the full settlement agreement.

Bridget, when will everyone receive a notice that they were hacked, i.e. from Equifax/FTC/Court?...the consumer does not have the legal duty to inquire. Or, stated otherwise, the info must be available since the class must confirm if someone is in/out of it....thus I and others wait affirmative notice! And the answer is?

If you don't know if you were affected by the 2017 Equifax breach, use this look-up tool to see if your information was exposed. If you were affected, learn more about what you could claim at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

Why do we have to give up some of our info to see if the info they have on us was exposed? Isn't that there obligation? Hello, anyone there?

The "free credit monitoring" is literally worth NOTHING, because you can already get it for free through other companies like Credit Karma.

its like someone giving you a free "phone book"

what a scam.

There is an individual obligation to notify a person when s/he was hacked. Why doesn’t the FTC enforce it. There is no reason for a consumer to “go see if they are affected!” The initial obligation is with Equifax and for FTC to enforce!

As my choice of option for the Equifax data breach, I signed up for the free credit monitoring... do I actually get access to the monitoring service so I can check things out for myself? Am I automatically registered through Experian or am I waiting on a specific email with a link to Experian to register or something? I haven't seen or heard anything about it. Not sure if there was supposed to be a confirmation screen or anything after I did the initial sign up because my browser froze up after I submitted my form.

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.

I prefer not to use Equifax credit monitoring service. That is the fox guarding the hen house. I prefer to pay Experian.

FAQ #8 on the settlement website www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says 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.FTC.gov/Equifax to learn what benefits an affected person can file a claim for, including:

  • free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services
  • cash payments capped at $20,000 per person for expenses you paid as a result of the breach and time you spent dealing with the breach

Where is the rest of the 700 million dollars going?

Read the FTC press release for details about the proposed settlement agreement, including:

  • Equifax Inc. agreed to pay at least $575 million, and potentially up to $700 million, as part of a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and 50 U.S. states and territories
  • 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.

Dear FTC,
This is ridiculous. Equifax should provide ten(10) years of Identify monitoring to every single one of the people who are at risk for free, and a check for $125 as an apology. If they do not agree to this, then they should close down.

shouldn't equifax have been paying a monitoring agency all along to monitor our personal information ? or monitoring it themselves
? and how do we know if the company hired to monitor my credit for 4 years is trustworthy, has ever prevented id theft even once, and/ or won't have a data breach themselves???

It seems to me that whoever agreed to this settlement was looking out for the business who created the mess, and not the consumers who were burned. These businesses are not too big to fail, and if they had to pay a bit more, maybe they would be more careful in the future. And if a few failed, the rest would really get the message.

I already have free credit monitoring. I would prefer the cash payment. I feel that Equifax should be held a little more accountable since they've been in business since I can remember and I'm 73 yrs. old not to mention the millions of customers. So why don't you all get your act together and take better care of the customers or get out of this business.

Everyone should get free credit monitoring until Equifax can guarantee it's got all our data back (forever).

I'm extremely disappointed and I don't know who the FTC even works for anymore. It doesn't appear to be for us.

I want the name of the person that thought this was a good idea

Thanks for your poor settlement, protecting Equifax instead of consumers.

If the settlement is worth 700 million and the victims get 31 million; where is other 669 million going?

Read the FTC press release for details about the proposed settlement agreement, including:

  • Equifax Inc. agreed to pay at least $575 million, and potentially up to $700 million, as part of a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and 50 U.S. states and territories
  • 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.

Equifax's credit monitoring has a zero dollar value. Anyone can get free credit monitoring from numerous resources. If Equifax can't pay for restitution as agreed, then they should be liquidated, and any assets can be added to the funds for restitution.

Under the settlement, you can get free, three-bureau 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. Learn more about the other benefits available at www.FTC.gov/Equifax and www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

Bridget from the FTC: You can keep answering with the FAQs, links, etc, but someone should be sending these comments up the chain. The American people are TIRED of there being consequences that amount to a slap on the wrist. Why should companies bother with security when they continue to get away with this time after time after time. When is the FTC going to put CONSUMERS FIRST???? This settlement is a joke - Equifax should be out of business.

I am already receiving free credit monitoring from Experian (ID Theft), as are many (millions?) others. Thus the offer of free credit monitoring is worthless, unless they will extend the time of the free offer to be consecutive to any existing credit monitoring, free or otherwise. (They don't even tell you how long the free protection you are getting is for - i.e., when it expires - when you are logged in to their website!) . This highlights the problem with credit bureaus that the FTC is not addressing, regardless of this settlement. Consumers are not being protected by this settlement, only the status quo is being protected.

Go to the settlement website (www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com) for details about the free credit monitoring.

FAQ #8 states that 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. 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.

Frequently Asked Question #19 on the settlement website 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.

Why would I need credit monitoring when I still have my credit frozen already from prior breaches?

forget monitoring and cash payouts, people should be going to jail for this

Typical: EQ creates the problem ... then offers the "solution" to the problem it created ... as if.

Whoever negotiated this settlement should go back to law school. As a victim of the OPM hack (as well as other breaches) I have more credit monitoring services than I can keep track of. The credit monitoring offered here therefore has zero $ value to me, and in any event costs them next to nothing which is why there is no limit on the number of victims who can accept it. Please stop quoting the retail cost of this service as its value, and also stop pretending that the FTC has done anything here that will discourage the loose controls that lead to all these breaches.

The FTC is suppose to protect the consumers, instead they protected Equifax and helped Equifax avoid bankruptcy. Equifax should not be in business and that would have set a great example to the other major credit bureaus. FTC should be shut down for protecting the business of Equifax and not the consumers. End Equifax and FTC

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