The Equifax data breach in 2017 woke a lot of consumers up to the dangers of identity theft. Now, almost two years later, a global settlement will give Americans a chance to receive consumer protection compensation and ongoing identity theft monitoring for up to 10 years in the future. Find out more how to learn if you qualify.
Equifax Data Breach Exposes Millions to Identity Theft
In July 2017, system administrators at Equifax, one of the three national credit bureaus, discovered that unidentified hackers had accessed their databases. These identity thieves got access to the personal information of at least 145.5 million people, some of whom had never intentionally interacted with the company.
It took Equifax nearly a month to report the breach to the Federal Trade Commission and another month to make the information public. Once it did on September 7, 2019, consumers across the country were warned to take severe steps toward protecting their credit history and their identity. One recommendation was to freeze the consumers’ credit reports. This process resulted fees and frustration for those affected, and could even interfere with consumers’ ability to take out new loans or get approved for housing.
FTC and CFPB Reach Global Settlement for Consumer Protection
The federal investigation into the Equifax data breach resulted in a nationwide class action to defend the rights of those affected by the hackers’ actions. On Monday, July 22, 2019, the government announced that a settlement had finally been reached. The global settlement was between Equifax and the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and all 50 states (and territories). In it, Equifax agreed to pay $650 million, of which $300 to $425 million will go to consumers directly affected by the breach.
Equifax Data Breach Settlement Gives Consumer Protection and ID Theft Monitoring
As a nationwide class action, the Equifax data breach settlement gives residents in Michigan and across the country a means to protect themselves, and their information. If you were affected by the breach you can request:
- Up to 10 years of free credit monitoring (longer for minors)
- Up to $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance for at least 4 years
- Up to $125 compensation for credit monitoring fees
- Free identity restoration services if your identity is stolen for up to 7 years
The settlement also allows for cash payments of up to $20,000 per person to any consumer who can prove the Equifax data breach caused them to suffer financial harm. This could include:
- The cost of credit monitoring (up to 25% for the period of 9/7/16 – 9/7/17)
- Credit freeze fees and costs
- Losses due to identity theft
- Fees paid to accountants and attorneys to correct the damage
- Other expenses including notary fees, postage, mileage, and phone charges
- $25 per hour for up to 20 hours of personal time spent dealing with the breach
The claims period started on July 24, 2019, after a federal judge approved the settlement. Consumers have until January 22, 2020 to get on the list of people receiving compensation (though they may be compensated for harm that happens after that date). If you think you may have been affected, you can also sign up for FTC email updates so you don’t miss your window.
Proving Damages with an Experienced Consumer Protection Attorney
The trouble for many affected by the Equifax data breach will be in proving the damage done and the time spent. That’s where an experienced consumer protection attorney can help. At The Liblang Law Firm, PC, we have decades of experience helping consumers prove the cost of identity theft and other collections problems. We can help you put a number on the harm done and gather the documents you will need to prove it. That way, when the time comes to file your claim, you’ll be ready. Contact us today to get started.