Equifax, one of the three consumer credit reporting bureaus, experienced a massive data breach in 2017. The data leaked included people’s social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, and driving license numbers. It affected over half of all Americans. VentureBeat called the exposure of 140+ million customers “one of the biggest data breaches in history.”
What are the details of the settlement?
The company has agreed to settle with the government for $425 billion dollars. It offers at least $125 to each affected person – more if you spent time because of the data breach (e.g. disputing unauthorized charges, freezing your credit report, paying to monitor your credit, etc.). You can check if you were affected at the official settlement site:
Sure enough, when I checked the site, I was also affected. So I filled out a short form in order to get compensation:
How much will they pay me?
Equifax will pay everyone $125, PLUS money for time and out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the breach.
For time spent: $25 per hour (max of 20 hours)
For money spent: All related out-of-pocket costs
Although I didn’t have related out-of-pocket costs, I did spend considerable time on this:
- 3 hours = disputing a fake address on my credit report
- 2 hours = freezing and unfreezing my credit to prevent fraud
- 5 hours = fighting against fake charges on a bunch of my credit cards
A total of 10 hours spent multiplied by $25 per hour is $250. Add that to the $125 base they are paying everyone who files and it comes out to $375. I probably spent more time than what I listed, but anything you claim over 10 hours requires documents and receipts which I didn’t want to bother with.
For those with out-of-pocket costs, here’s some things you can claim money for:
- Losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts
- The cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report
- The cost of credit monitoring
- Fees you paid to professionals like an accountant or attorney
- Other expenses like notary fees, document shipping fees and postage, mileage, and phone charges
The form takes less than 5 minutes to fill out. Once you do, you’ll receive a confirmation at the end and will receive your payment by check or debit card:
I read about this breach when it first appeared in 2017. There’s plenty of stories on Google if you want to read more on it. It’s just mind boggling how they let this happen. It’s even crazier that some executives knew about this beforehand and sold their shares of Equifax stock knowing that it would crash once they made the news public.
The $425 million dollar settlement is also pocket change for a company of this size. It isn’t big enough to discourage them of being more stringent about their data security. Still, if you’re affected by this, don’t let the free money go out the window.