The way I see it, impacted consumers from the 2017 Equifax data breach will do 1 of 5 things. Which one is best for you?
- Do nothing. Sadly, many consumers will do nothing and they will get limited benefits from the settlement and will lose their right to take action in the future against Equifax should they later be impacted from this data breach. If you do nothing, you still can get assistance with free identity restoration services.
- File a claim for the $125 cash payment. Sadly, right after Equifax announced their proposed settlement, millions of consumers quickly filed claims to receive their $125 cash payment. It was quickly learned that the $125 offered cash payment may end up being mere pennies. Consumers can also seek reimbursement of up to $25 per hour for time spent dealing with the data breach. I expect the time spent dealing with this breach may be hard to prove and this fund is also expected to pay only a small amount due to the expected number of reimbursement submissions.
- File a claim for free credit monitoring for up to 10 years. To me, this is certainly a better option than the $125 cash payment that will actually be much less. Free credit monitoring has been offered by a number of marketing companies for some time so this option may not provide much value to many consumers.
- File a claim for cash payments up to $20,000. You can seek cash payments to recover money you paid as a result of the breach. This includes losses from unauthorized charges, the cost of (un)freezing your credit report, the cost of credit monitoring and other expenses paid to other business professionals. While $20,000 sounds like a great deal of money, in many cases, the cost and damages of recovering from ID Theft far exceeds this amount.
- Opt Out. Any consumer who was part of the breach has the option to Opt Out of the settlement. The deadline to Opt Out is November 19, 2019. As I see it, the biggest benefit of Opting Out is you do not lose your right to sue Equifax related to this data breach. In a perfect world, this data breach will not cause you, me or anyone to be a victim of ID Theft or other related woes. Who knows what the future holds since cyber criminals are always getting craftier on how to use stolen personal data for their gain. If you choose to Opt Out, you can do so by mailing a statement containing:
- The name of the proceeding “Equifax Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, Case No. 1:17-md-2800-TWT”
- Your full name and current address
- At the top of the document, the words “Request for Exclusion” or a statement that you do not wish to participate in the settlement.
- Your signature.
- Mail, postmarked no later than 11/19/19 to:
Equifax Data Breach Class Action Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91318
Seattle, WA 98111-9418
I suggest that each impacted consumer should either file a claim or Opt Out. For me personally, I choose to Opt Out. The benefits I would get today from filing a claim is not worth me losing my right to take future action against Equifax should the need arise. You can get more information related to filing a claim or how to Opt Out from the FTC or Equifax Settlement websites.
If your credit needs some help, take action. There are a lot of resources available on steps to improve your credit. You can get free information from the FTC or contact a professional company like CureMyScore.com for help. By taking action to improve your credit, you may qualify for the home of your dreams or a new auto while paying less in interest charges.