On July 22nd, 2019, the FTC announced that Equifax agreed to pay up to $700 million in a settlement with the FTC, CFPB and 50 states and territories related to the major Equifax data breach in 2017 that affected 147 million people. If you have questions as to how this settlement may affect you, please read below.
Consumers who were impacted by the 2017 Equifax breach will be entitled to 7 free credit reports per year for 7 years from Equifax starting in 2020. Affected consumers may also receive free identity theft help if their identities are ever stolen by calling 1-833-759-2982. Even if a consumer's identity has not been stolen, they are entitled to part of the settlement. They may choose to receive 10 years of free credit monitoring. For the first four years, the consumer will receive monitoring for each of the big three credit reporting agencies. The next 6 years will be for Equifax alone. Consumers can check if they were affected by the breach by using the Equifax look up tool.
There is also an option for a cash settlement for those who already have credit monitoring and will continue to have it for six months after the consumer's claim. However, because the agencies and Equifax miscalculated how many people already obtained credit monitoring after the 2017 breach or already had credit monitoring through other channels and the large response from the public, the payout per consumer is going to be much lower than expected, as expressed by the FTC. The total settlement was $700 million, but only $31 million was set aside for consumer repayment, the rest was for penalties, etc. Also, important to note, is that if affected consumers do not remove themselves from the settlement, then they will be releasing Equifax from any future legal claims and will not be able to pursue other lawsuits against Equifax.
Consumers should always be aware of the risk of identity theft. Additional resources on how to protect yourself can be found on the Identity Theft Protection page of our site.