WASHINGTON – On Monday, Equifax settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over its 2017 data breach, which affected 147 million Americans.
The settlement of up to $700 million includes as much as $425 million for individual compensation. With so many Americans affected, it’s very likely you could qualify for some form of compensation as a result of the settlement.
And with so many names, addresses, birthdates and Social Security numbers leaked, you could still be at long-term risk for identity theft.
Here’s what you need to know.
Was I affected?
The Equifax Data Breach Settlement website has a look-up tool where you can find out whether your data was compromised.
How do I get the money?
If you’d like to get 10 years of free credit monitoring — or $125 if you already have ongoing credit monitoring — you can make a claim.
You can choose to receive the payment at home as a check or as a debit card after final approval from the court, which is set for December 19.
What if my identity was stolen?
Per the settlement, you’re eligible for seven years of “free identity restoration services,” according to the FTC. If you find out that your personal data has been misused, you can call the FTC’s settlement administrator to get help.
Should I opt out?
Opting out of the settlement means you don’t forfeit your rights against Equifax and can still file your own lawsuit against the company.
Those who can prove that they took a hit above $125 can get $25 for every hour spent pulling their lives together in the wake of an Equifax-related identity theft. That deal is capped at $20,000. Don’t opt out if you want that option.
If you think your personal damages as a result of the data breach exceed $20,000, talking with your attorney about a separate suit could be an option. But you’d need to make sure you opt out of this settlement class first.
How do I exclude myself?
If you’re one of the Americans whose data was exposed, you can send a letter filing a “request for exclusion,” postmarked no later than November 19.
Excluding yourself means you’d retain your rights to sue Equifax on your own, should you chose to, based on claims related to the 2017 data breach.
What if I do nothing?
If you don’t do anything, you relinquish your right to sue Equifax in the future, and you give up on the $125 or 10 years of free credit monitoring provided by the settlement.
Your deadline to opt out is November 19, and your deadline to file a claim based on this settlement is January 22.