Equifax says it will pay nearly $700 million for its role in a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of 148 million consumers.
When Equifax disclosed in September 2017 that hackers had exploited its website to steal consumer data, money expert Clark Howard was one of the most vocal proponents of reform. He also offered steps to take to protect yourself.
Equifax data breach settlement: How to claim your money
If you are a class member, here’s what you’re entitled to:
If you don’t want to submit a claim electronically, you can download a claim form here, fill it out and mail it to:
Equifax Data Breach Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91318
Seattle, WA 98111-9418
You can also contact the settlement administrator to have a claim form mailed to you here.
If you choose to decline the free 10-year credit monitoring from Equifax, the agency says you can opt for a $125 cash payment instead. Clark says you should take the cash — not the credit monitoring.
Clark’s take: How do you prove identity theft via Equifax data breach?
As he looks back at the massive hack nearly two years ago, Clark says he has some key questions about the settlement:
“You’ll…be able to seek direct economic compensation from Equifax, but here’s the problem in the process: How do you prove that the identity theft problems you’re having are because of the Equifax data breach?”
“A lot of times there’s a lot of fuzziness, a lot of fog that surrounds identity theft,” he says. “I don’t know if you as an individual are going to be able to prove beyond hope that the actual data breach you’ve suffered is because of the Equifax data breach.”
The Atlanta-based credit bureau says the $671 million settlement will resolve multiple federal and state investigations, including those by the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus, and attorneys general in 48 states.
More importantly, it could give millions of Americans a payoff for the stress and trouble the data breach caused.
Equifax also says it will fork over a quarter of the price consumers paid for credit and identity monitoring services up to a year before the data breach was announced.
As Clark always says: Freeze your credit
Clark says freezing your credit is the #1 way to protect your identity and financial information.
Before you freeze your credit, you should set up a way for you to monitor your credit. This is what he wants you to do: