An Equifax settlement has finally been reached – nearly two years after their massive data breach. The company has agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The settlement includes a Consumer Restitution Fund totaling up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach and another $175 million going to all 50 U.S. states and territories.
It was in September of 2017 that Equifax, one of the largest consumer reporting agencies in the world, suffered a data breach that affected roughly 148 million consumers – nearly half the U.S. population.
Equifax’s failure to maintain and update their security system is what caused this preventable breach. Despite knowing about a critical vulnerability in its software, Equifax failed to fully patch its systems. The breach went unnoticed for 76 days.
This epic breach enabled hackers to penetrate Equifax’s systems and exposed the private data of 56% of American adults. Breached information included Social Security numbers, names, addresses, birthdates, credit card numbers and some driver’s license numbers too. It was, and still is, the largest and most damaging breach of highly sensitive consumer data.
RESTITUTION FUND – JUST A MERE $2.87 – PER VICTIM!
The Equifax Settlement includes a Consumer Restitution Fund totaling up to $425 million that will go to consumers who can demonstrate that they were financially harmed by the breach. $300 million is dedicated to addressing consumer redress. However, if the $300 million is exhausted, the fund can increase by up to an additional $125 million. The company must also offer up to 10 years of credit monitoring services to those affected by the breach. If you don’t want the credit monitoring service, you may be able to opt for a $125 cash payment, unless they run out of funds. You can’t get both!
Furthermore, Equifax has agreed to take several additional steps to assist consumers who are either facing ID Theft issues, or who have already had their identities stolen. It includes making it easier for consumers to freeze and thaw their credit and making it easier for consumers to dispute inaccurate information contained in their credit reports.
Additionally, the Equifax settlement requires the company to maintain sufficient staff dedicated to assisting consumers who may be victims of identity theft. For at least seven years, Equifax will provide free assistance to victims via their Identity Restoration Services. In other words, if you discover there was misuse of your personal information, call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982 and you will be given instructions for how to access Equifax’s free Identity Restoration Services.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO NOW?
Equifax is offering FREE Credit Reports for ALL U.S. Consumers. Starting in January 2020, all U.S. consumers can get 6 free credit reports per year for 7 years from the Equifax website. That is in addition to the mandatory free credit report everyone is entitled to each year from each of the three credit bureaus that you get from going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com
To find out if you were one of the over 147 million victims of Equifax’s data breach and an eligible class member, call 1-833-759-2982 or you can click here
*NOTE: If you wish to file a claim, you must file your claim by January 22, 2020.
Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for info on How to File a Claim