The deadline to apply for up to $20,000 compensation following the 2017 Equifax mega-breach is just … [+]
Equifax has promised a payout of up to $20,000 for customers affected by the massive breach that took place in 2017, which exposed information including 147 million people’s social security numbers. The opportunity to apply for an Equifax breach compensation payout was announced back in July 2019, and the deadline to file your claim is fast approaching.
Also last year, it was proposed that Equifax would be fined $700 million, with $425 million of that money earmarked for people affected by the 2017 breach. But this week it was confirmed that the Equifax payment will actually be at least $1.38 billion and the customer payout will be slightly lower at $380.5 million. An additional $125 million will be added if needed to cover out of pocket claims.
The deadline to apply is January 22, so time is running out. Here’s how you can file your claim now.
How to claim your Equifax breach compensation
The first step is to find out if you are eligible for compensation. You can check using this simple tool set up by Equifax.
Once you know that you can claim, the question is how much. You can use the Equifax data breach settlement website to apply for up to 10 years of free credit monitoring.
If that doesn’t sound too good, you can apply for $125 instead, but it should be noted that many people will end up with free credit monitoring, unless they can prove they already have this service in place. In August, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tried to encourage customers to apply for credit monitoring instead of the payout, because it was concerned Equifax wouldn’t be able to afford to pay all the affected customers who were applying for compensation.
The second option, for those more seriously impacted by the Equifax breach, is to apply for a cash payment capped at a very hefty $20,000. This payout is reserved for those for suffered serious fraud following the breach; costs related to freezing or unfreezing your credit report; or fees you might have had to pay to accounts and attorneys.
However, it’s important to note that not many people will be getting the huge payout, given the FTC confirmation that Equifax simply doesn’t have the cash to give the maximum amount to those impacted.
Once you have applied for the breach, you may get paid quite quickly. The FTC says some payouts may take place from January 23 2020–a day after the deadline to apply.
The Equifax breach fallout
Considering the sensitivity of data impacted and the sheer scale of the Equifax breach, it can certainly be counted as one of the worst of all time. And it didn’t even need to happen: The breach took place because the firm failed to patch a server.
Equifax’s overall security was terrible and did not take into account the fact it was guarding very sensitive information. In October, I reported that Equifax was using the very weak password “admin” to protect personal data on a portal used to manage credit disputes.
At a time when customers suffer significantly from the fallout after data breaches, Equifax’s reputation is in tatters. This payout will certainly help, as will the $1 billion measures to improve its security, but it may take some time to regain people’s trust.