Published 4:54 PM EDT Sep 10, 2019
Consumers must jump through some more hoops to get a cash payout from the huge Equifax data breach settlement.
To get up to a $125 payment, many people must verify that they have enrolled in a credit monitoring service by October 15 “or your claim may be denied,” according to the Federal Trade Commission settlement website. That requirement will affect people who submitted a claim before Aug.2.
Consumers who signed up will get an email with “further steps you must take to get your benefits,” the FTC states. Those who filed after that date already are being asked to confirm they have credit monitoring.
The Equifax settlement was announced July 22 and the official settlement website, www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com, started accepting claims July 25. The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 22, 2020.
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The credit-reporting company has agreed to pay between $575 million and $700 million to settle state and federal investigations related to a massive security incident that exposed the personal information of more than 147 million Americans two years ago.
Originally, consumers were told they could receive free credit monitoring for 10 years or up to $125.
But on July 31, the FTC warned that the payouts would be “nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”
“The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming. Because the total amount available for the alternative compensations is $31 million, each person who takes the money option is likely to get a very small amount,” the FTC explains in frequently asked questions.
The alternative to the cash option is to take the guaranteed free credit monitoring at the three main bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – for up to 10 years, plus $1 million in identity theft insurance. The market value of these services is hundreds of dollars a year.
Filing a claim or amending one
To confirm you’re eligible to file a claim, enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number at www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com or call the Settlement Administrator at 1-833-759-2982.
You can file online or by mail. If you file by mail, you can download and print the claim form,fill it out and mail it with any supporting documentation.
You also can request a claim form be mailed to you by calling 1-833-759-2982 or emailing info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.
If you already filed a claim for cash, you can switch to the free credit monitoring but “must verify or amend your claim before October 15, 2019,” the FTC says. To do this, go to the “I would like to…” menu on the settlement website.
Other options from Equifax settlement
Starting next year, all Americans will be entitled to six free Equifax credit reports each year for seven years. This can help you monitor any illegal activity. All U.S. consumers are entitled to get free identity theft recovery services for the next seven years.
If you spent time or money dealing with an ID theft issue that occurred after the breach and involved personal data that was exposed by the hack, you can recoup those costs up to $20,000 per person. Such costs include losses from unauthorized charges, fees to freeze your credit report and fees paid to an accountant or attorney.
Consumers are also eligible to get $25 per hour for time spent dealing with the breach’s aftermath, up to 20 hours.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko