Update: July 24
If you were affected by the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you can start filing claims for your share of the settlement. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that the consumer credit reporting agency has agreed to pay $575 million in the incident that saw millions of Americans' data leaked onto the internet.
The FTC has just released information to help you find out if you qualify for a piece of the settlement. The FTC also is providing instructions on how to file for a monetary claim or to receive free services from Equifax. Tap or click here to file a claim.
When a data breach occurs, it's often a massive catastrophe for those involved. Not only can the ordeal lead to widespread crimes like identity theft and fraud, but victims often incur financial pitfalls and lost time for their troubles. Because of this, it's no wonder that affected parties are so adamant that justice is served against those responsible for the breach and related crimes.
Well, for those affected by the unprecedented Equifax breach of 2017, the score is about to be settled. The FTC and Equifax have finally agreed to compensate millions of Americans that had their data leaked -- with some even qualifying for thousands of dollars in reimbursements for costs incurred after the attack.
While nothing can give back the time and energy that victims spent fighting breach-related crimes, this settlement is a major step in the right direction. If you, or a loved one, found yourselves in the crosshairs of the Equifax breach, here's how you can find out if you're eligible to make a claim in this extraordinary case.
What did the FTC and Equifax agree to?
On July 22, the FTC announced that Equifax has agreed to pay $575 million as part of a settlement related to the massive 2017 data breach that saw millions of customer's data leaked to the internet. This breach has regularly been described as one of the worst in history -- with many of the victims unaware that their data was even hosted by Equifax.
As an entity established to assess creditworthiness, Equifax enjoyed privileged access to private consumer data. To make it easier for its affiliates to run credit reports, this data was hosted on servers owned by the company -- servers which fell victim to cyberattacks.
This meant that wide swathes of consumers had their data leaked online at no fault of their own, with several even falling victims to fraud, identity theft, and other cybercrimes in the process.
Information leaked in the breach included names, addresses, Social Security numbers, payment card numbers, and expiration dates.
Per the FTC settlement, Equifax has agreed to offer free credit monitoring services to any affected parties for up to 10 years. Additionally, the company is required to offer cash payments of up to $20,000 per person in order to refund any expenses that resulted from the attack. This can include expenses from legal fees, lost or stolen money, and other costs related to monitoring or restricting your credit report.
New York Attorney General Letitia James weighed in on the historic decision, stating that Equifax's "...ineptitude, negligence, and lax security standards endangered the identities of half the U.S. population." Since the judgment has now fallen on Equifax to make right with affected parties, we can only hope the process goes smoothly for anyone who lost time or money because of the incident.
Will I qualify for compensation from Equifax?
Right now, there isn't a process to file a claim just yet. To prepare for the task, the FTC has put up a webpage with more details about the plans in the works.
It's advising affected parties to hang on to any related documents from "your efforts to avoid or recover from identity theft after the 2017 [breach]." These documents will likely be used to verify your claim during the process.
The FTC is also advising consumers to bookmark the webpage and sign up for email alerts -- which will include any important updates on the settlement process.
According to the FTC, consumers whose claims are approved can expect to be compensated for identity theft related expenses and losses, as well as $25 per hour up to 20 hours for time spent dealing with the fallout from the breach. Any payments in the settlement are currently capped at a maximum of $20,000 per person.
Additionally, affected consumers are eligible for free credit monitoring, courtesy of Equifax, for 10 years following a claim. If you already have credit monitoring, you can opt for $125 cash instead. If you were a minor in May 2017, however, you are eligible for up to 18 years of free credit monitoring.
Once claims open up, the FTC will provide more details on its website on how to file. We'll be updating this story as more details on the process and settlement come to light in the coming months.
Report says outdated way 4 U.S. agencies verify ID could lead to fraud
After the massive Equifax breach in 2017, over 145 million Americans' data was leaked to every corner of the web -- making it easy for hackers and cybercriminals to masquerade as their victims without them knowing it. In spite of this, not every platform seems to be aware of the dangers posed by the fallout from Equifax, and a number of government systems are still relying on outdated methods to verify user identity. Could this lead to even more widespread fraud?