How to navigate the Equifax data breach settlement offer

Those affected by Equifax data breach can now apply for compensation

"In September of 2017, Equifax announced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people". If you are, you're eligible for free credit monitoring or $125.

There is at long last a silver lining for the 144 million of us who had our personal data leaked in the big 2017 Equifax data breach: cash money.

You can submit a claim to receive 10 years of free credit monitoring or - if you're already using a service that provides credit monitoring when you apply - you can instead file for a $125 payment.

You can also file a claim to be reimbursed up to $20,000 for the costs associated with recovery from the breach, including money lost due to identity theft, according to CNET. You can do so at this website - just enter your surname and the last 6 digits of your social security number.

Keep in mind you'll have to provide some personal information as part of your claim. The good news here is that backing documents aren't required, and you could see compensation for time you spend trying to recover from identity theft (or avoid it in the first place) of $25 an hour (up a maximum of 10 hours - more than that and you will need documents backing up your additional time spent).

If you spent a lot of time dealing with the breach, you can get $25 per hour, up to 20 hours, according to the FTC.

The official website of the settlement is, and all relevant details can be found there. To protect yourself - whether you were caught in this breach or not - it's best to freeze your credit with all three major credit bureaus (the others are Experian and TransUnion).

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One of the main problems with the breach is that many of Equifax's customers may not have known they were an Equifax customer.

The claim processing won't begin until next year, so be prepared to wait a while before the reimbursement lands in your mailbox.

If you are now paying for monitoring and will be for six more months, begin gathering bills or receipts to substantiate your costs. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, US citizens are able to receive one free credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus-TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You can also request these reports via mail by filling in this form on the FTC website and sending it to the address listed on the document.

What is the deadline for filing your claim?

Finally, victims are also eligible for seven years of free "assisted identity restoration services" to help them fix the effects of identity fraud and theft. If you have a paper trail, you can also claim expenses incurred in an effort to resolve the issue. If you want to be excluded from the settlement, you need to send a written request postmarked no later than November 19.

"If you can use other services, take the $125", says Lacey.

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