As you may know, Equifax announced that it experienced a significant data breach in September 2017. You may be surprised to learn just how extensive the breach truly is—it has affected roughly 147 million people. That is about 49% of the United States population. There is a very real possibility that the Equifax breach affected you, and you may not even know it.
Why is the data breach a big deal?
Some people have already seen issues with someone stealing their identity. Others may not see an impact for years.
With the information that was shared, someone could sit on your data and use it to get credit or open accounts as if they were you, and a lot more. That type of action could end up being a huge time commitment to fix, and it could end up costing you a significant amount of money, too.
What kind of benefits are available if the breach impacted me?
If your information was shared with others, you might be able to get part of a substantial settlement. The settlement has three parts:
- Free credit monitoring service for up to four years, or $125 in cash (if you already have credit monitoring services)
- Other cash payments that might include:
- Compensation for the time you spent dealing with anything related to identity theft or misuse of your personal information
- Any out-of-pocket losses
- Up to 25% of the cost of identity monitoring services you purchased before the data breach announcement
- Free identity restoration services for at least seven years
Am I going to get these benefits automatically?
Although these services and the payments are part of the settlement, you won’t get them automatically. Actually, you have to file a claim to take advantage of these benefits.
The court also has to approve the final settlement before benefits are paid out. Right now, the hearing on the settlement is set for December 12, 2019.
How do I know if I was impacted?
There is a simple way to check to see if you have been impacted. Visit this website and provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.
This site is operated by The Settlement Administrator, which is a legal administrator working under court orders to gather information for claims.
How do I file a claim?
The first step is to find out if your personal data was shared with others. If you have been impacted, you can file a claim. There is a relatively straightforward online process that you can use to file a claim.
If you have damages other than simply being on the list, such as expenses from having to deal with identity theft, you should have that documentation ready to be uploaded before you start the filing process.
What should I do if I need help?
Give our office a call if you have questions. We are happy to walk you through the facts of the breach and help you determine if you qualify for reimbursement or credit monitoring. We also encourage you to share this information with friends and family as well.
Please take a few minutes to check if you are impacted by this data breach. Sadly, this may be something of a common occurrence and protecting your data (as best we can) is a smart move to prevent headaches down the road.