You're running out of time to submit your Equifax data breach claim -- here's how
You still have time to file your FTC claim for the Equifax data breach affected 147 million people. Barely.
Clifford ColbyManaging Editor
Clifford is a managing editor at CNET, where he leads How-To coverage. He spent a handful of years at Peachpit Press, editing books on everything from the first iPhone to Python. He also worked at a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWEEK and MacUser. Unrelated, he roots for the Oakland A's.
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You have just a few days to file your claim if you're among the 147 million people whose data was exposed in the 2017 Equifax data breach. The Federal Trade Commission said you have till Jan. 22 to submit a claim to recover money you spent or lost as a result of the massive database hack.
Watch this: Equifax breach: Find out if you can claim part of the $700 million
The breach resulted in hackers stealing credit card and driver's license information, Social Security numbers, addresses, birthdates and other personal data stored on Equifax's servers. As part of its investigation, the
alleged that the free credit bureau failed to take reasonable steps to secure its network.
Even if you weren't part of the breach and don't qualify to file a claim, you can get free credit reports for seven years as part of the settlement.
Taking part in the Equifax settlement isn't completely straightforward. The exact amount that Equifax will pay out is undetermined. The proposed settlement will start with a $300 million fund to compensate affected consumers who bought credit-monitoring services. Equifax will also pay $175 million to state and districts -- and $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in civil penalties.
If the initial $300 million infusion doesn't adequately compensate consumers, according to the FTC, Equifax has agreed to kick in $125 million more to the fund, for a total possible settlement payout of $700 million. If you're a claimant, your share of the settlement could include free credit-monitoring and identity-theft protection services. You might also be eligible for cash payments to cover expenses resulting from the breach -- such as legal fees and credit monitoring -- and for free help recovering from identity theft and free credit reports for 10 years.
You'll need to enter your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number to see if your data was part of the hack.
Prepare and file your claim
On the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website, you can file a claim to get back money you lost or spent as a result of the wide-ranging hack. Here's how to prepare for and then submit a claim.
To support your claim, you'll need to gather any documents and receipts you have related to the breach to show expenses you had to recover from identity theft, for example, and money lost because of the breach.
You can also follow the instructions on the site to mail your claim or have a claim form mailed to you.
As part of the claim process, you'll select which benefits you are eligible for and review which documents you need to submit to support your claim. Supporting documents include statements showing unauthorized charges, costs of freezing your account, fees paid to professionals to help with the theft, and other associated expenses.
What the settlement payments can cover
The proposed agreement caps payouts at $20,000 per person to help cover what you spent to recover from the breach. Here are costs and expenses you may be able to recover.
Expenses related to unauthorized charges to your accounts
Costs of freezing a credit report and credit monitoring
Fees paid to accountants, attorneys and other professionals
Expenses for postage, mileage, notary and other services
Fees related to credit monitoring, up to $125. (But don't expect to get that much.)
Cost of Equifax credit monitoring and other services for a year prior to the breach.
In addition, beginning in 2020, Equifax will provide all US consumers -- whether part of the settlement or not -- with six additional free credit reports per year for seven years, from its website.
The FTC said if, after all initial payments, there is still money in the fund, it will open an "Extended Claims Period" to let you make claims for out-of-pocket losses or time spent that happen after the initial claims deadline The FTC said you need to make made by Jan. 22, 2024, and claims will be paid on a first-come-first-served basis.
Originally published in 2019 and updated periodically.