Equifax has announced that their massive data breach in 2017 exposed the personal information of 147 million people. Now, the company has agreed to a $700 million settlement.
Under the terms of the settlement, the major credit bureau is paying a mix of government fines, legal fees and, most importantly for consumers, setting up a fund that will underwrite free credit monitoring, identity theft protection and individual cash payments to people affected by the breach, which are capped at $20,000 per person.
Consumers can claim up to $20,000 each for relief
A $425 million consumer fund will be used to provide reimbursements to affected consumers for time and money they spent related to the breach.
Consumers will be able to claim up to $20,000 each, according to the release.
This will include $25 an hour up to 20 hours for time spent protecting personal information or addressing identity theft after the breach.
Consumers can also be reimbursed for up to 25 percent of the amount paid to Equifax for credit or identity monitoring subscription products between Sept. 7, 2016 and Sept. 7, 2017.
Any unreimbursed costs, expenses, losses or charges incurred as a result of identity theft and miscellaneous expenses associated with the breach, such as notary, fax, postage, mileage and telephone charges, can also be claimed.
In addition, all affected consumers are eligible to receive at least 10 years of free credit-monitoring and at least seven years of free identity-restoration services.
Starting Dec. 31, and extending seven years, all U.S. consumers may request up to six free copies of their Equifax credit report during any 12-month period as well. The free copies will be provided to requesting consumers in addition to any free reports to which they are entitled under federal law.
Consumers who decide not to enroll in the free credit monitoring available through the settlement may seek up to $125 as a reimbursement for the cost of a credit-monitoring product of their choice.
If you were a minor in May 2017, you are eligible for a total of 18 years of free credit monitoring. You can also request cash payments for expenses you paid as a result of the breach such as losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts and the cost of freezing and unfreezing your credit report
Starting in 2020, all American consumers can get six additional free credit reports per year for the next seven years through the Equifax website.
How to file a claim
A settlement administrator will manage the claims process.
Consumers must submit a claim to receive the free credit monitoring or cash reimbursements online or by mail after the court approves the settlement by Jan. 22, 2020.
Deadlines for filing the claims will also be included on the website.