The 2017 Equifax data breach compromised the personal information of 147 million people. (We have a primer if you’re not caught up.) Now, the credit reporting company is trying to make amends.
Equifax agreed on Monday to pay $671 million dollars in the largest data breach settlement ever. It’s the outcome of numerous class-action lawsuits and investigations brought against the company by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the New York Department of Financial Services and the attorneys general of 48 states.
Up to $425 million will be used to establish a fund that will pay for credit monitoring for 10 years from all three credit bureaus and $1 million of identity theft insurance for people affected by the breach. Consumers can request a $125 cash payment if they’re already signed up for credit monitoring services.
Equifax is also offering cash payment of up to $20,000 per person for any financial losses from the breach, including time spent dealing with it.
“No amount of money can possibly cover all the damage,” said Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “But I hope a lot of consumers take advantage of it.”
Consumers can file a claim here. It takes approximately two minutes to complete. To prove identity theft, consumers will need documentation of stolen data, said Rheingold. They must file a claim by Jan. 22, 2020 to get compensation.
Equifax has also agreed to take “significant steps” to enhance its security. Rheingold said this is one of the most important parts of the settlement.
“It shows the steps Equifax needs to take to protect people,” he said. “It’s a promise that they will behave better.”
Don’t know if you’ve been a victim of identity theft? Here’s how to tell.
Image: Sharon McClutcheon