The Equifax data breach in 2017 was one of the largest in history at the time to compromise private data. Surprisingly, the Atlanta-based credit agency did not detect the breach for six weeks.
Equifax’s breach leaked out personal information which in some instances included driver’s license and Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and data from passports. As a result, more than 147 million consumers had their data compromised, leaving them at the mercy of hackers, malware and other online threats.
Angered by the breach, millions of consumers whose personal information had been compromised lodged claims against Equifax. According to court documents, more than 15 million claims were submitted by December 1, 2019. Equifax denied any wrongdoing with Mark Begor, the company’s CEO, saying there was no evidence of stolen data being sold on the dark web.
Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. of the Nothern District of Georgia approved $700 million in settlement of a class-action lawsuit. In addition, consumers who prove that the breach harmed them can claim up to $20,000 in reimbursement.
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While Equifax has agreed to pay millions of dollars to consumers affected by the breach, counsels acting for the credit bureau says people should be patient as it could take months before the payments are released.
Equifax’s spokesperson advises consumers to keep checking the settlement website, saying that it will be updated regularly. To check the status of your claim, enter your claim number on the settlement website.
Basically, the settlement gave the affected consumers two choices: take up free credit monitoring for 10 years or opt for cash payment. For consumers opting for credit monitoring, the first four years would be with Equifax and two other credit bureaus and the rest of the six years with Equifax.
Consumers who asked for financial compensation or reimbursement for time spent recovering from the breach will get up to $125 via debit card or check mailed to the address used when submitting the claim.
In spite of requesting for the maximum compensation offered by Equifax, you should be prepared to receive less than expected. Since the settlement set aside for the claims is $31 million, if the number of valid claims keeps increasing and exceeds that amount, you are likely to receive less than you might have hoped.
On the other hand, if you requested credit monitoring, you are likely to receive an activation code and instructions on how to go about the process.
Though the initial deadline for lodging claims lapsed in January 2020, there is a second claim period valid until January 2024. The second phase is for claims alleging harm emanating from the data breach springing up after the closure of the initial claims period.
Hopefully Equifax learned a lesson from this breach and will take necessary precautions to protect consumer data in the future.
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