How to get your share of $700M settlement from Equifax data breach
People whose Social Security numbers and other private information were exposed in a 2017 data breach by the Equifax credit reporting agency can apply online for a share of the $425 million available through a $700 million settlement reached between the government and the company.
The data breach — considered one of the largest in U.S. history — is believed to have affected nearly 150 million people.
People whose private information was exposed can receive reimbursements of up to $125 for money they spent on credit monitoring or identity theft protection after the breach as well as the cost of freezing or unfreezing credit reports at any consumer reporting agency.
Payments of as much as $20,000 also will be made for time spent remedying fraud, identity theft or other misuse of personal information caused by the data breach. The payment also covers up to 20 hours spent purchasing credit monitoring services or freezing credit reports at a rate of $25 an hour.
The payments also cover out-of-pocket losses caused by the breach and as much as 25% of the amount consumers paid to buy credit or identity monitoring services in the year prior to the breach.
The Atlanta-based consumer reporting agency did not detect the attack for more than six weeks. The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases, data from passports.
People affected by the breach also are eligible for at least seven years of free help with identity restoration services.
The breach was one of the largest ever to threaten the private information. The consumer reporting agency, based in Atlanta, did not detect the attack for more than six weeks.
The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases, data from passports.
In addition to the $425 million earmarked for consumers, Equifax was hit with a $100 million civil penalty. Earlier this year the company set aside about $700 million to cover anticipated settlements and fines.
The settlement was reached between Equifax and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission. It covers all 48 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“Companies that profit from personal information have an extra responsibility to protect and secure that data,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach that affected approximately 147 million consumers.
“This settlement requires that the company take steps to improve its data security going forward, and will ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud,” Simons said.
Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, [email protected] or via Twitter .