The recently announced $700 million settlement by Equifax with the United States government includes payment of up to $425 million to consumers who were affected by the 2017 data breach. Affected consumers may be eligible for up to $20,000.00 in reimbursements for losses from unauthorized charges to affected accounts, legal and other fees, credit-monitoring or identity-theft-protection services, and expenses related to freezing or unfreezing their credit reports. Consumers should start gathering documentation of these expenses. In addition, for the time spent dealing with the data breach, consumers can seek $25 per hour for up to 20 hours, a maximum total of $500.00 as compensation.
Further, all impacted consumers will be eligible to receive 10 years of free credit monitoring (or opt instead for a $125 cash payment for a credit-monitoring product of their choice), at least 7 years of free identity-restoration services and, starting in 2020, 6 free copies of their Equifax credit report each year for 7 years on top of the free copy consumers can already get by law every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. For minors, free credit monitoring increases to 18 years. Consumers must submit a claim to receive free credit monitoring or cash reimbursements. The FTC said that the initial claims period will begin July 25, 2019 and be open for 6 months. The settlement administrator won’t send out any payments until that deadline has passed.