After its part in exposing the sensitive information of hundreds of millions of Americans, Equifax is now on the hook for a $700 million settlement — and some of it could be yours.
Earlier this week, Equifax reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission some two years after the company compromised 150 million people by exposing their Social Security numbers and other private data.
In May 2017, hackers and scammers were able to access the names, birthdays, credit card numbers and driver license numbers of Equifax’s customers for a total of 76 days, according to a House Oversight Committee report cited by the Los Angeles Times.
While Equifax suspected something was awry in late July 2017, the company did not notify the FBI until early August, and then waited until September to tell customers of the attack. In all, the hackers stole 146 million Social Security numbers, and 209,000 payment card numbers and expiration dates, the newspaper reported.
“Companies that profit from personal information have an extra responsibility to protect and secure that data,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement, according to the Times. “Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach.“
The FTC also found that Equifax had a chance to fix the vulnerability that granted the hackers access to the data when their security team was alerted in March 2017, but the patch was never performed.
According to CNBC, the FTC’s deal with Equifax includes $425 million to help customers who were directly affected by the breach, with $300 million immediately available to compensate consumers and another $125 million available if more is needed. The company will also pay $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in fines and $175 million to 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
For anyone looking to check if they were affected by the hack, they can go to this website. If you find yourself on the list, you can then submit a claim for any money you are owed.
According to The Verge, consumers affected by the breach can accept four years of credit-monitoring through Experian and up to six additional years with Equifax, but if they already use a credit-monitoring service, they can receive $125 in a check or pre-paid card.
They can also submit a claim for any time lost because of the breach, which will net them $25 per hour for up to 20 hours (which will require proof and documentation if they claim more than 10 hours).
Consumers will be able to claim up to $20,000 if they were the victim of fraud or experienced losses because of the hack, or if they paid out-of-pocket for expenses related to it, which will also require documentation. The deadline to file claims related to the scandal is January 22, 2020.
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