You may have heard about the Equifax settlement. You also probably have more questions about it.
This settlement involves a pretty big document. It’s about 74 pages long. It is an agreement between the Federal Trade Commission, the attorneys generals for the 50 states and
territories in the United States, and Equifax.
Equifax is one of the three largest credit bureaus in the country. They gather all kinds of data on everyone and it’s estimated that the number of people that were affected by their security breach in September of 2017 is about 147 million people, which is about half of the country.
What’s Being Done?
The goals of the parties involved, since a lot of the players are government entities, were to one, make sure that that kind of breach is unlikely to happen again. And two, to try and make whole with the people who have been affected by the breach.
There’s a website you can visit to see if you were affected. My partner and I are both in that database as being affected by this breach.
What the FTC and the other entities got, it’s a kind of a two prong thing. They set up a commission that Equifax has to set up their own security protocols with and have them approved by this commission and they’re under that restriction for the next 20 years. So for the next 20 years, every year there’s a commission outside of Equifax that’s been set up that has to monitor their security and data protocols to make sure that they are in compliance with the agreement that they struck with the Federal Trade Commission.
There’s a lot of information that the credit bureau has that they have to put these safeguards on. It’s defined as your personal information. It’s things like your first and last name, your home and physical address, your email address, your telephone number, your date of birth, your Social Security Number, your driver’s license number, your passport number, other government issued numbers that identify you, all of that falls within their definition of your personal information.
How Does the Settlement Help You?
The judgment amount is $425 million and they’re separating it into different pots or categories. Equifax has to pay for you to receive four years of credit monitoring, which is provided by another company other than Equifax. And that credit monitoring that they provide has to include at least a million dollars in identity theft coverage and full service identity restoration services.
Since this breach happened in 2017, a lot of people went ahead and covered themselves for identity theft protection and credit monitoring. So if you’re one of those people, you’re also entitled to $125 to help cover the cost.
You can file a claim for any other costs you have personally incurred since September of 2017 when that breach happened for whatever out of pocket expenses you had for credit monitoring, for placing or removing a freeze on your credit report, for costs due to dealing with identity theft because a huge part of it is also the identity theft part. Someone would have the ability with all of the information that they could access to take out loans in your name without your knowledge, to open utility accounts without your knowledge, to make fake IDs without your knowledge that would have your actual information on it.
Equifax also has to provide assistance with any identity restoration services that you might need for up to seven years after that September 2017 date, partly because your information is out there. Once it’s out there, someone may use it right away to start doing fraudulent activity. Or they may wait. That information could be sold and bought on what they call the dark web, so it may not show up for months or years after that 2017 breach. That’s part of why these timeframes are going for so long, why Equifax has to put these security protocols in place
and they’ve got to be monitored for the next 20 years to make sure that they are complying with that, why you have four years of credit restoration and identity restoration services available from them.
There was a lot contained in that order. It just came out a day ago, so I read through it rather quickly, so I’m going to take a more comprehensive look at it and make a post in the group about anything else that I find involving this particular order. The website to go to to see if you are part of the group is www.eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com. I’ll make a post with that contact information in there as well.
If you have any questions, leave us a message in the group, or at email@example.com. Otherwise I’ll talk to you next week.