The amount of personal information that the consumer credit reporting agency exposed was truly unprecedented. The Equifax data leak two years ago was the biggest in history, and the current settlement fund for victims is, accordingly, likely to be the biggest ever. If your personal data was exposed by the 2017 Equifax data beach, then you could be entitled to up to $20,000 in compensation. That’s because Equifax agreed to pay $700 billion to federal and state authorities in order to help mitigate some of the damage that occurred when the agency left approximately 145 million people’s personal information (e.g., social security numbers) exposed to scammers.
The settlement to consumers amounts to a collective $425 million. Each consumer who saw their information exposed is potentially eligible for up to $20,000, or commensurate compensation up to the stated ceiling payout. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a claim form that you might consider exploring. The FTC says that victims are entitled to more compensation if they’ve experienced the following situations in the wake of the Equifax data breach: unauthorized charges to your accounts, costs associated with freezing and unfreezing credit reports, heightened costs for credit monitoring, accountant’s and attorney’s fees stemming from the 2017 data breach, and miscellaneous expenses like notary fees related to the breach. Make sure that you fill out a form as quickly as possible since the FTC deadline for filing is January 22nd of next year.
Since about 55 percent of Americans were directly impacted by the Equifax data breach, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this you were affected. Hackers were able to get unauthorized access to consumer’s personal information, like driver’s license numbers and social security numbers, that they wouldn’t have had the consumer credit reporting agency taken more safeguards to protect consumers’ data. There are actually four kinds of relief that the courts have said victims could be entitled to as a product of having their information exposed; these four types of relief include: monetary relief (discussed above), credit monitoring, time loss, and partial reimbursement for Equifax credit monitoring.
Some data security experts wonder whether a lot of these forms of relief are really worth it for the consumer insofar as a lot of effort is required to file a claim and not much relief is given in most instances. Only past, not future, losses are covered by aforementioned monetary relief.