Ryan P. Cleary
Equifax Settlement: How to Claim Your Benefits from the Class Action Lawsuit
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
Update 8/1/2019 at 20:52 EST: The FTC has issued a statement that "A large number of claims for cash instead of credit monitoring means only one thing: each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed." At time of publication we strongly advised our readers of this possibility and we are continuing to recommend choosing the credit monitoring option which comes with $1 million identity theft insurance.
More than 147 million people (slightly fewer than half of all Americans) were affected by a data-breach in 2017 when hackers stole personal information from Equifax (one of the three largest credit bureaus). In July, Equifax recently settled to pay up to $700 million in restitution and fines to settle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Of the $700 million, up to $425 million will be distributed to those who were affected by the breach and whose social security numbers were exposed. You can check your eligibility and file a claim at https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/
[Author’s Note: this is the official link provided by the FTC, you can access it via their report HERE]
What are the benefits if I was affected?
If you were affected, you will have access to free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for up to ten (10) years (or up to 18 years if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the breach in 2017). If you already have credit monitoring, you can request a payment of up to $125 instead. If you had other expenses caused by the breach such as losses, account fees, or from freezing credit reports you may get a payment of up to $20,000. It is useful to know that you may also be compensated for any time you spend dealing with the breach at a rate of $25 per hour for up to 20 hours total.
In summary if eligible you may receive:
10 years of credit monitoring and identity theft protection with $1 million identity theft insurance OR up to $125 if you already have monitoring
Up to $20,000 compensation for expenses related to the breach
Up to $500 ($25/hr for 20 hours) compensation for time spent.
Free Identity Restoration Services for at least seven (7) years to help in cases of identity theft and fraud.
While this sounds great, there is some fine print you should be aware of.
The pool of funds to compensate pay out the $125 is limited to only $31 million. If more than 248,000 people choose this option, the amount paid per person will be diluted. This means that if 3% of the people eligible request this option (more than 1.47 million people) each person would receive only $7.03 from the settlement. Readers should know that this is one of the most publicized settlement cases, so it is highly likely that this pool will be diluted. Considering this, many readers may want to consider opting for the 10 years of free monitoring and protection instead.
If you make any claim from the settlement or if you do nothing, you will be “releasing all of your legal claims relating to the Data Breach against Equifax when the settlement becomes final. By releasing your legal claims, you are giving up the right to file, or to continue to pursue, separate legal claims against or seek further compensation from Equifax for any harm related to the Data Breach—whether or not you are currently aware of those claims.”(FAQ #19). In plain English, this means that you are giving up your rights to sue Equifax.
What if I don’t want to give up my right to sue Equifax personally?
If you do not want to be bound by the class action lawsuit, you must “opt-out” and cannot make any claims under the settlement. To do so you must:
“To exclude yourself from the settlement you must mail a “request for exclusion,” postmarked no later than 11/19/2019, to:
Equifax Data Breach Class Action Settlement Administrator Attn: Exclusion c/o JND Legal Administration P.O. Box 91318 Seattle, WA 98111-9418
This statement must contain the following information:
The name of this proceeding (In re: Equifax Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, Case No. 1:17-md-2800-TWT, or similar identifying words such as “Equifax Data Breach Lawsuit”);
Your full name;
Your current address;
The words “Request for Exclusion” at the top of the document or a statement that you do not wish to participate in the settlement;
and Your signature.”
You should remain aware that winning an individual lawsuit may be difficult because you will need to prove personal damages and pay for your own lawyers. Make your decision carefully.
What dates should I know about?
The settlement has the following dates you should be aware of:
November 19, 2019:
Excluding yourself from the settlement (opting-out)
Object or comment on the settlement
January 22, 2020
Filing a claim for out-of-pocket losses or time spent (for current losses and time)
Filing a claim for credit monitoring services or up to $125 alternative reimbursement compensation
File a claim for Equifax subscription product reimbursement
January 22, 2024
Filing a claim for out-of-pocket losses or time spent (for future losses and time)
How do I file and go through the process?
We have step by step guide that walks you through the process, start to finish! We have put it together in a separate article, HERE
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