Consumers can check if personal information was breached, sign up for credit monitoring & restoration, and apply for restitution directly on site
Attorney General Letitia James announced consumers can now visit a new website, www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com, and input limited information to see if their personal information was compromised in Equifax’s massive breach of 2017 that ultimately affected more than 147 million consumers. The site not only has information about the breach and the settlement reached, but also allows consumers to check if they were victims of the breach, file claims for financial restitution, set up credit monitoring and restoration services, and check on the status of all these services.
“For two years, nearly half the U.S. population has wondered if their personal information was compromised because of Equifax’s irresponsible and negligent behavior,” James said. “Today, we can finally provide every American with clarity and undoubtedly tell them whether their information was stolen or not. I urge all to visit www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com and check to see if their data was illegally breached, and if so, file a claim for restitution. Consumers will need to deal with the fallout of this breach for years to come, and this website is just the first step in helping provide consumers with the tools to recover.”
Earlier this week, James announced a multistate settlement with Equifax following the 2017 breach that compromised Social Security numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses, credit card numbers, and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers of nearly half the U.S. population. While the company created a website, in 2017, for Americans to check and see if their personal information was breached, the AG’s camp said, “That website was riddled with vague and inaccurate information that only provided consumers with more uncertainty and no clear answer as to whether they were impacted by the breach or not.”
Now that the settlement has been provisionally approved by the court, www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com has been updated so that consumers can more easily input their last name and the last six digits of their Social Security Number to find out if their information was breached. A third party administrator – not Equifax – is overseeing this new website.
If consumers find out they were victims of the breach, restitution can be provided in a multitude of ways.
•Consumer Restitution Fund: A single consumer restitution fund of up to $425 million – $300 million of which will initially be dedicated to compensation, with an additional $125 million available if initial funds are depleted – will be provided to victims.
Consumers can claim up to $20,000 to compensate for money lost due to identity theft or fraud. Consumers who are eligible for redress will be required to submit claims showing they have been a victim of fraud or have taken proactive steps to set up credit monitoring services by submitting documents online or by mail.
Consumers, however, do not have to prove direct causality from the breach to identity theft. As long as an individual was a victim of the breach and a victim of identity theft in the two years since the breach, they can apply for restitution. Consumers can also be compensated for the time spent dealing with identity theft – at the rate of $25 per hour, for up to 20 hours.
In addition to filing claims online, consumers can also call 1-833-759-2982 to request a paper application be sent to them by postal mail.
•Credit Monitoring and Restoration: Equifax has agreed to offer consumers, who had their data exposed, with free credit-monitoring services for up to 10 years. Consumers who take part in the service will have up to $1 million of identity theft insurance available – at no deductible – to cover identity recovery expenses and legal costs. The first four years of credit-monitoring service will include monitoring by all three of the big three credit reporting agencies, while years five through 10 will be made available through Equifax.
Additionally, Equifax has agreed to take several steps to assist consumers who are either facing identity theft issues or who have already had their identities stolen. These steps include making it easier for consumers to freeze and thaw their credit, and dispute inaccurate information in credit reports, as well as maintain sufficient staff to assist consumers who may be victims of identity theft.
Additional Pieces of the Settlement
Under the settlement, Equifax has also agreed to pay $175 million in fines to the attorneys general of 48 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; $100 million in fines to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and $10 million in fines to New York State’s Department of Financial Services.
Equifax has also had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to strengthen its security practices as part of the settlement, and will continue to do so going forward. The company has agreed to regular third-party assessments to evaluate whether its administrative, technical, and physical safeguards meet the requirements provided in the agreement.
More information on the settlement can be found in the initial settlement announcement made on July 22.