The settlement between Equifax and the US Government over their 2017 data breach has been reached. There have been plenty of headlines and talk surrounding the settlement. I wanted to take some time and highlight the important things to know and considerations if you were affected.
- 1. First of which is to understand if your information was exposed. Over 147 million people had their data exposed as part of the hack so it’s likely that you or someone you know has been affected. As part of the breach hackers were able to steal credit card information, drivers license information, Social Security numbers, addresses, birthdates and other personal data stored on the Equifax servers. The Federal Trade Commission as well as the official settlement site have an online tool you can utilize to check if you were apart of the Equifax Breach.
- As part of the settlement, affected individuals have a couple options if they are choosing to participate in the settlement. The first of which is electing for a monetary settlement in the form of a one-time cash payment of $125, recouping expenses you paid as a result of the breach (capped at $20,000 per person), or for the time you spent dealing with the breach $25/hour up to 20 hours. The second option is to elect for free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. Equifax is offering up to 10 years of free credit monitoring (At least 4 years of monitoring with all three-credit bureau’s; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Plus, an additional 6 years of monitoring on your Equifax credit report). Equifax has agreed to pay at least $575 million and up to 700 million to help compensate victims. While the cash option may seem attractive to most as reported there are limited funds available for payment and the Federal Trade Commission is urging consumers to consider the free credit monitoring as an option.
- Another consideration to be vigilant of scammers. As you work through the settlement process ensure you are using the correct websites. Be careful to not disclose personal information over the phone to anyone calling saying that they represent any of the institutions involved in the settlement. Unfortunately, these situations are opportunities for scammers and far too often people fall victim.
While the Equifax breach is fresh on everyone’s mind and a new report of Capital One having its data breached just this past July 19, 2019. There is nothing that we as individuals can do to prevent such data breaches from happening and its unrealistic to thing that this will never happen again. It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to monitoring your own credit report. Unfortunately, that is about the only course of action any of us have to protect ourselves.
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This article is written by Kyle Cooper.