Equifax Inc. has agreed to pay a minimum of $575 million as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the 50 states as well as the territories of the United States. If you were affected, you can file for your share of the settlement, which for most people is about $125. Or, you can opt for free credit monitoring.
This comes as a result of Equifax’s alleged failure to hold a secure network, which allowed a data breach in 2017. Equifax was alerted to a security vulnerability in March of 2017, but did not discover that its database was unpatched until July 2017. The breach exposed data such as names, birth dates, addresses and other information of approximately 147 million people to hackers.
Were you affected by the data breach?
If you think you might have been affected by the breach at Equifax, use this tool to find out. You could be eligible for free credit monitoring, or a cash payment.
If you have been affected, how do you get your benefit?
You can file a claim by going here and following the instructions.
If your claim is approved by the court and you choose to receive free credit monitoring, you will receive an activation code with instructions on how to proceed. The code is available through email or by snail mail.
If you opt for a cash payment, you can receive a check or debit card by mail once you file and after the court approves your claim.
You must file a claim by January 22, 2020. Your settlement will not be sent until the court makes its approvals, so don’t expect your check to arrive any earlier than January 23, 2020.
Can you do anything else?
Yes. You can sign up for email updates about this settlement here or call 1-833-759-2982 to ask for more information.
You can sign up for identity theft protection, or a credit monitoring service.
Ask for a free annual credit report from the three major credit bureaus. You can request a report here.
You can also apply a credit freeze at the three major credit bureaus. A credit freeze is free, and it blocks new applications for credit in your name. No one can open new accounts using your name and personal information – including you. If you are going to apply for a loan or a new credit card, you will need to lift the freeze in order to do so. However, it might be worth the extra hassle to keep your credit information locked down in the meantime. It isn’t foolproof, but it will add another layer of security to your data. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score.
Call the three major credit bureaus to begin the credit freeze process. You will need to provide your personal information, such as your Social Security number, your date of birth, etc. The three credit bureaus are:
Remember, the freeze is in place until you lift it – you must go to each credit bureau to lift the credit freeze (using the same personal information) if you are applying for a credit card or loan. You will have received a personal identification number at the time of the freeze, and you can use that number to unfreeze your credit by phone or by mail.
Continue to monitor your own credit reports for activity that is fraudulent. Check your credit card statements, bank statements, and other bills carefully each month for signs of unapproved charges. Contact these companies immediately if you notice something suspicious.
For more Living on the Cheap articles:
- Keep your smart phone data safe
- Avoid counterfeit technology
- Free or low cost home security strategies
- Avoid phone scams, plus some apps that will help