Find out if you're eligible for money in the Equifax settlement
(CBSNEWS) -- First things first: Before you start spending the extra cash in your head, figure out whether you're one of the estimated 147 million Americans entitled to a portion of nearly $425 million in compensation stemming from Equifax's massive 2017 data breach. The credit reporting company this week agreed to pay $700 million for claims tied to the hack, which occurred after Equifax botched a software update, and up to $425 million of the total can be claimed directly by consumers.
The figuring out part is pretty simple. All you have to do is enter your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number in a website operated by the settlement administrator (not Equifax). If told your personal information was affected by the data theft, then you can file a claim.
How to get your settlement from the Equifax data breach
That's relatively easy to do, too. You can make a claim for compensation and upload any supporting documents online at https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/.
If you'd rather mail your claim, you can download and print a designated form, which can be filled out and sent with any supporting documents to:
Equifax Data Breach Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91318
Seattle, WA 98111-9418
Note that claims on behalf of anyone who was a minor on May 13, 2017, must use this form and be sent via conventional mail.
How much dough will you get?
Consumers impacted by the data breach are entitled to up to 10 years of free monitoring of their credit reports. You can also sign up for at least four years of monitoring services provided by Experian at no cost, or if you already have credit monitoring going, you can file to be compensated for up to $125 in cash.
People who were harmed in the cybertheft can also claim as much as $20,000 in cash reimbursement for expenses related to the breach. Those include fees to freeze or unfreeze credit reports, as well as for credit-monitoring services; losses from unauthorized charges to accounts; and any payments to lawyers and or accountants.
You can make a claim for up to 20 hours of time spent dealing with the breach. 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 (up a maximum of 10 hours -- more than that and you will need documents backing up your additional time spent).
The settlement site includes a page with answers to frequently asked questions, from basics like how the settlement came about to how long it could take to get your money (the process could take several months or more.)
The deadline to file claims is Jan. 22, 2020, for most benefits, and you won't receive anything until the settlement administrator gets the go-ahead from a court — that would be Jan. 23, 2020, at the earliest.
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