As we’ve talked about in the past, Equifax experienced a data breach in 2017 that exposed the sensitive information of over 148 million Americans. The information compromised included Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and credit card information.
It was announced yesterday that a settlement for the breach was finally reached. It was ruled that Equifax must pay $700 million in damages; $425 million to assist victims of the breach and $275 million to pay for civil penalties. This is the largest monetary settlement ever ruled for a data breach.
What does this mean for the victims?
Equifax should have notified victims of the data breach by mail when it occurred. However, the company will also offer a tool to see if you were impacted by the breach and settlement on a new breach claim site which you can view here.
A quick and partial listing of the terms of the settlement that victims of the breach will receive:
- Free credit monitoring for the next ten years. For the first four of those ten years, victims will receive monitoring from all three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian), and only from Equifax for the final 6 years of that period. In certain circumstances, you may opt-out of this for a payment of $125 [we advise taking the credit monitoring].
- Reimbursement of up to $20,000 to those who have spent money (for legal fees and identity protection services) in efforts to protect their identity in the wake of the breach. It is still unclear how these reimbursements will be disbursed, but the burden of proof to show the expenditure will most likely fall upon the victims.
- Equifax is offering free restoration services for victims of identity theft as a result of the breach for up to seven years. Again, details are not known as to this benefit yet.