How to claim your share of the $700 million Equifax settlement
Starting today, victims of the massive Equifax data breach -- and chances are if you're reading this, you're one of them since 147 million people were affected -- can finally get the ball rolling on filing a claim and collecting their share of the $700 million settlement with the credit reporting agency.As a reminder, hackers extracted tons of data from Equifax servers in a data breach a couple of years ago that included peoples' names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and more than 200,000 payment card numbers and expiration dates. Equifax settled a lawsuit the FTC brought against it for $700 million, and that money will be used in part to offer free credit monitoring services to victims of the breach, as well as direct cash payments to people affected.The FTC's claim website went live on Thursday morning, and that's where you should go to see if you were affected by the breach. You can also use the form to denote how much money you think you're entitled to.If you visit that website, you'll see that it offers you a few options to choose from. As part of the settlement, for example, victims can request at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring offered through Experian, as well as up to six more years of free one-bureau credit monitoring through Equifax. If you already use such services, you can request a direct $125 cash payment.Speaking of cash payments, the settlement site says consumers may also be eligible for cash payments for:> * the time you spent remedying fraud, identity theft, or other misuses of your personal information caused by the data breach, or purchasing credit monitoring or freezing credit reports, up to 20 total hours at $25 per hour.> * out-of-pocket losses resulting from the data breach.> * up to 25% of the cost of Equifax credit or identity monitoring products you paid for in the year before the data breach announcement.> Finally, victims are also eligible for seven years of free "assisted identity restoration services" to help them fix the effects of identity fraud and theft.One additional thing it's important to note: None of the benefits listed above will be made available and distributed until the Equifax settlement is approved by a judge in the FTC's legal case against it. Victims have until January 22, 2020, to file a claim, and the settlement might be approved in December, with the case's final hearing currently set for December 19.
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