While many people are looking forward to a $125 payout from the Equifax Breach Settlement, you may be entitled to a much larger payout. If you can prove your identity was stolen or severely hampered, and that you suffered because of it, you could receive “up to $20,000”. Although the latter may seem like the better option, read why Melika Honore, of Honore Credit Consultants, recommends her clients take advantage of the free credit monitoring… or to opt out instead. 

Described as one of the biggest hacks in history, Equifax admitted being informed about the potential threat hackers posed to it’s system in March 2017 but didn’t put any measures in place to make it’s system more fail-proof by installing important patches. Now, Equifax, as part of the conclusion it reached with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has agreed to a settlement reaching $700 million. The number of people affected by the breach is about half of the US population. This means you could be in line for some sort of compensation from Equifax. 

Here’s what you should know about the Equifax breach settlement:

Whether It Affects You 

Not everyone was affected, but judging by the numbers, there is a good chance that you were. To find out, you’ll have to check with the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website at https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/file-a-claim.   There you can find out if your personal information falls among those that were compromised. 

What Does this mean for you? 

Free Credit Monitoring or Cash Payment: 

If your name is listed as one of those affected by the breach, you are eligible for free credit monitoring of your credit report for at least 4 years, covering the three credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You may also be entitled to free credit monitoring of your Equifax credit report, for an additional 6 years. That amounts to 10 years of free credit monitoring you can enjoy, while those under the age of 18, and affected by the breach, stand to get more free credit monitoring. 

You could decide to opt for cash payment under the terms of the settlement. That’s supposing you have credit monitoring running for at least 6 months. 

Figure you’re entitled to more money? File for reimbursement. Since the stated amount for cash is $125, you may get up to $20,000 if you can prove that your identity was stolen or severely hampered and that you suffered because of it. 

Reimbursement (if you file for it), coupled with Further Cash Payments: 

Being eligible for reimbursement doesn’t mean you get the full sum of $125 quoted by the FTC and Equifax, although when you file for one, you may receive that sum and other cash payments “up to” $20,000. The final amount ultimately depends on how many people file a claim because the funds have to be divided among all claim recipients.

The reimbursements will cover the time you spent recovering from identity theft or making sure your identity stays protected for up to 20 hours at $25 per hour. Also, the money you spent protecting your identity including unauthorized charges to your account, and steps towards ensuring your credit report stays private. Again, you may get reimbursed for up to 25% of the cost of Equifax monitoring services, or products for identity protection you acquired from the 7th of September, 2016 to 7th of September, 2017.

Being eligible for free identify restoration services which could span a good number of years ( not less than 7). This gives you an option against identity theft and fraudulent activities in the future. 

You Can Opt-Out

You can opt-out of the settlement and still retain your right to file an individual lawsuit against Equifax. All you have to do is contact your attorney about a separate suit, after opting out of the settlement class, of course. 

You Can Do Nothing 

If you confirm that you suffered as a result of the breach in data but choose not to do anything in accordance with the terms of the settlement, you waive your rights to file a suit against Equifax in the future for any separate claims, and you won’t be eligible for any benefits. To put it in clear terms, you waive the aforementioned $125 and the 10 years of free credit monitoring covered by the settlement. 

If you’ve given serious thought to opting out and want to go ahead, consider the November 19, 2019 deadline. While you should file your claim based on the terms of the settlement before January 22, 2020.

How You Can File Your Claims 

Filing your claims is not as difficult as you’d imagine with two options available to you. Firstly, you can file online. There is a form for this purpose online and tends to be quick. Secondly, you can file by mail. You can fill out the claim form that comes with the notice and mail it to the address stated on the form. If you have any supporting documents to accompany the form, do well to include it. 

You Can Help Your Child Make A Claim

This article already mentioned those under the age of 18 were entiled to more years of credit monitoring, but you may have more questions about the process involved. As a parent or legal guardian of a person under 18 or minor, you can make a claim for the credit monitoring services on behalf of your child with respect to the settlement. Further, the minor is entitled to services (minor monitoring) such as, alerts of their personal detail gets associated with a new name, or if such personal details on suspicious websites, identity restoration if it has been compromised, and you can enroll the child for a full credit monitoring service before he/she turns 18, and has an Experian credit file, backed with all the necessary details authenticating it. With that, your child can have up to 18 years of credit monitoring services. 

Final Thoughts

We personally at Honore Credit Consultants recommend that our clients take advantage of the free credit monitoring… or the opt out option. 10 years of credit monitoring is valued to be around $2,400, but it’s a guaranteed savings for those who actively monitor their credit. As opposed to receiving $125 or “up to $20,000” which could actually be a lesser amount depending on the available funds. However, if you are one of the individuals who have suffered a severe loss from the Equifax data breach and are looking to receive the highest payout, electing to “opt out” is the better option. Doing so will grant you the right to file your own lawsuit. If you participate in the settlement claim or if you do nothing, you waive that right.

For more info or questions visit our website at http://www.myperfectcreditscores.com

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