Protect Yourself (And Get Paid) By Equifax

The hacking of personal data has become a global epidemic.

Infamous case in point: Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax (NYSE: EFX) in September 2017 suffered the mother of all data breaches. It was probably the worst such event in U.S. history.

Hackers stole personal information from Equifax on 147 million consumers, including driver’s license data, Social Security numbers, and birth dates. Yikes!

The hackers obtained everything needed to open credit accounts in your name, to file false tax returns in your name, and to receive government benefits in your name—for the rest of your life.

Given the scope of the breach, there is a good chance you were impacted. In fact, nearly every person I have checked who has a credit history was impacted, including everyone in my family.

This disastrous data breach requires your immediate attention, especially given recent developments.

A Settlement Is Announced

Last week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Equifax reached an agreement for Equifax to pay at least $575 million and up to $700 million to compensate those whose personal data was exposed with the breach of the Equifax servers. It’s a trivial amount given the potential impact of the breach, but the FTC voiced concerns that a huge settlement would have bankrupted the company.

The settlement allows you to file a claim to be compensated for your time in dealing with this breach. Here’s what you need to know.

First, you must determine if you have been impacted. Be aware that there are already several phishing sites out there that offer to check your eligibility. Those are just trying to victimize you yet again. Here is a legitimate link to determine your eligibility: Check Your Eligibility

You need to enter the last six digits of your Social Security number and your last name, and the site will tell you if you were impacted. If you were impacted, you can immediately file a claim online. Here’s what you need to know.

Protect Yourself

First, you are offered $125 or free credit monitoring for up to 10 years. I would strongly recommend getting the latter. The credit monitoring option includes at least four years of free monitoring of your credit report at all three credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion (NYSE: TRU), and Experian (OTC: EXPGY) — and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance. Also provided will be up to six more years of free monitoring of your Equifax credit report.

That’s far more valuable than $125. Further, the $125 is capped based on how many people apply. You could get a fraction of that amount. I have heard that this option may be eliminated entirely, as millions of people have already filed claims. The pool of money set aside for this portion of the settlement was only $31 million.

However, there is still an option to be paid for your time. After selecting the free credit monitoring, you will be taken to a page that allows you to put in a claim for time you have spent on this issue.

For up to 10 hours, you don’t have to provide any documentation. You just have to describe what you did. You can put something like “Reviewed credit reports each quarter since the data breach” and put a date in there of September 2017 or later and claim 10 hours at $25 an hour.

You can claim more hours than that, but you have to submit documentation proving it.

Additional Steps

Because of the potential of this hacking incident to seriously harm your credit, you should also pull a free copy of your credit report. You can request one free copy annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian — at

Note which one you’ve pulled and then mark your calendar to retrieve data from one of the two remaining agencies in four months (if you want to avoid paying for a report).

As a consumer, you can’t afford to ignore this incident. If you choose not to act, there’s a good chance you’ll be forced to spend much more time clearing your name after your identity has been stolen.

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