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Updated on: August 6th, 2019

This post was updated to reflect the FTC’s clarification that consumers will no longer receive the $125 cash settlement.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard that one of the biggest credit agencies in the world, Equifax, had a massive data breach in May 2017. Hackers exposed social security numbers and other sensitive data, affecting 147 million consumers. Not only that, but Equifax failed to notice the breach until late July, and didn’t notify the public until September of that year. Naturally, a huge Federal Trade Commission lawsuit and settlement ensued, and since a large percentage of the U.S. population has used Equifax’s services in one form or another, many of us are eligible for ten free years of credit monitoring from all three bureaus.

Note that a cash settlement was previously offered, but due to the massive response, the payout will be microscopic and far less than the $125 originally quoted.

Here’s how to go through the process and obtain your credit monitoring from Equifax.

  1. Go to the Equifax Breach Settlement This website is run by JND, the company administrating the settlement, rather than Equifax themselves, thankfully.
  2. Scroll down and click Find Out if Your Information was Impacted. Enter your last name, and the last six digits of your social security number. You’ll find out whether you’re eligible.
  3. If you are, click File a Claim Today, then click File a Claim Online. Click Next.
  4. Enter your contact information on the next screen, then click Next.
  5. From here, you can choose that you want ten years of free credit monitoring.
  6. You can also file a separate claim for time spent because of the breach. This step requires additional documentation, and the payout will probably be very small, so most people will probably skip it.
  7. Finally, you can file a separate claim if you lost money or spent money because of the breach (in other words, you were a victim of identity theft). Again, you’ll have to provide documentation, and most people won’t be able to prove they were affected monetarily.
  8. Save a copy of the claim number as a PDF or print it, and you’re done.

The deadline for this settlement process is January 22, 2020, so don’t expect to receive your free monitoring for a few months yet. In fact, Equifax will not send activation codes for credit monitoring until a federal judge approves the settlement. Equifax still denies any wrongdoing. Therefore, consumers are unlikely to be able to activate the monitoring until at least the end of the year. Consider it a holiday benefit for Equifax’s huge mistake.

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Debt.com

Debt.com

Debt.com’s writers are journalists, personal finance experts, and certified credit counselors. Their advice about money – how to make it, how to save it, and how to spend it – is based on, collectively, a century of personal finance experience. They’ve been featured in media outlets ranging from The New York Times to USA Today, from Forbes to FOX News, and from MSN to CBS.

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