Time is almost up for consumers to file a claim related to the Equifax data breach. The deadline is January 22, 2020.
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.
Equifax Data Breach Settlement: How to Claim Your Money
Because the agreement was approved in court, consumers can get up to $20,000 in cash payments, but you have to see the details below. Here’s how to file a claim:
If you wish to file a claim via U.S. mail, print out this claim form and mail it to this address:
Equifax Data Breach Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91318
Seattle, WA 98111-9418
Here Are the 3 Things Equifax Is Offering in the Settlement
If you are a class member, here’s what you’re entitled to:
1. Free Credit Monitoring or Up to $125 Cash Payment
Equifax is offering 10 years of free credit monitoring to those affected. If you choose to decline the free credit monitoring, the agency says you can opt for a $125 cash payment instead. Money expert Clark Howard says you should take the cash — not the credit monitoring.
- The credit monitoring services would be comprised of four years from all three bureaus, then six more years through Equifax only.
- As for the cash payment, Equifax says: “The amount that you receive may be substantially less than $125, depending on the number of claims that are filed.”
2. Other Cash Payments
Here’s where you could get even more money: You may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 for damage you incurred in the break, but you’ll need to prove it. Here are the details:
- Equifax will pay up to $20,000 if you suffered serious repercussions from the breach, including things like losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts and fees to accountants and attorneys.
- Equifax will pay up to 20 hours at $25 an hour for lost time and money you spent related to the data breach. To get more than that, you’ll need “reasonable documentation.”
- The will pay to 25% back for Equifax credit/ID monitoring services purchased before the breach was made public.
3. Free ID Restoration Services
You can also get up to seven years of free assisted identity restoration services to help reverse the damage caused by identity theft and fraud.
Clark’s Take: How Do You Prove Identity Theft via Equifax Data Breach?
As he looks back at the massive hack, 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.”
Main Takeaway: Freeze Your Credit
In any event, 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:
Ready to protect yourself? For a step-by-step walkthrough on how to do it, see Clark’s Credit Freeze Guide.
More Credit and Identity Protection Resources: