How to file a claim for $125 if you were hit by the 2017 Equifax data breach

If your Social Security number was exposed in the 2017 Equifax data breach, you can finally file a claim for $125 — or potentially more — in compensation.

The consumer credit reporting agency agreed on a $575-$700 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday. The 2017 data breach impacted the personal information of approximately 147 million people, including Social Security numbers and other private data. 

As part of the settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million toward credit monitoring services for the affected consumers. This money will also compensate those customers who paid out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the security breach. 

Those who were affected by the data breach can go to the official data breach settlement website to claim their benefits. Affected customers may be eligible for either free credit monitoring services or a cash payment of $125. If you’re not sure whether your data was compromised, the settlement website also has an area where you can check your eligibility

If you opt for the $125 settlement, you’ll need to have already signed up for credit monitoring when you file the claim and plan to keep it for six months — so be sure to sign up for a free credit monitoring service like Credit Karma before you file.

Some people may also be eligible for cash payments up to $20,000 for the time spent on remedying fraud or identity theft and for out-of-pocket losses resulting from the data breach.

Unlike the $125 option, a larger claim requires you to provide details on time or money spent dealing with the breach, and you’ll need to submit additional documentation as proof.

As a third option, you may also qualify for at least seven years of free identify restoration services. 

The deadline to claim reimbursement benefits is Jan. 22, 2020. You can access the free identity restoration services for at least seven years, whether or not they file a claim under the settlement. 

“We encourage consumers impacted by the breach to submit their claims in order to receive free credit monitoring or cash reimbursements,” said Kathleen L. Kraninger, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s director, in the FTC’s press release on the settlement. 

The FTC said that Equifax failed to secure its network after an alert in March 2017 about a database security vulnerability. The company reportedly did not discover that the database was still unpatched until July 2017. Hackers were able to gain access to consumers’ personal information, including Social Security numbers, during the four-month period. 

Along with paying out claims to affected Americans, the FTC also requires Equifax to submit to third-party assessments of its information security program every two years. 

Since the settlement has not been approved by the court yet, it may be a while before you see your $125 check — they won’t be sent until everything has been finalized.

Digital Trends reached out to Equifax for comment but did not yet receive a response. 

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