by H. Jude Boudreaux, CFP®
You may have heard in the news that Equifax has reached a proposed settlement with the courts. The settlement under consideration is for its data breach in September of 2017 that exposed the personal information of 147 million people.
The settlement would potentially provide a cash payment to you, free credit monitoring services, other payments if you’ve had out of pocket losses or spent more than 10 hours pursuing identity theft issues, and up to 7 years of identity restoration services.
The cash payment option of up to $125 may be reduced depending upon the number of people who make claims for payment. If you want to pursue any of the above options, you will need to find out if you were subject to the data breach, and then complete a form on the website. We’ve put together the steps below to help guide you through the process.
- Check to see if your information was included in the Equifax security breach at this link: https://eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/en/eligibility (If you know your children’s SSNs you may want to check them as well. If they are minors, you can make a claim on their behalf, or you can let your adult kids know that they were affected. Remind them to eat more vegetables and call us at The Planning Center if they need to be reminded to call home more often).
If you get a page that says — “Based on the information you provided, our records indicate that your personal information was not impacted by this incident. Equifax has worked hard to make the “Am I Impacted” tool as accurate and up-to-date as possible.” — then you’re all set! Nothing more to do here.
However, if you get one that says — “Based on the information you provided, our records indicate your personal information was impacted by this incident.” — then you go forward in the process of filing a claim.
- To file a claim, go to www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com and click on the FILE A CLAIM TODAY button.
- The next page will give you instructions for mailing in claim information, or you can click the FILE A CLAIM ONLINE button.
- The next page gives you a brief overview of claim options, click NEXT
- This page is titled Your Information: Complete your personal information and then click NEXT
- Page titled Section 1 – you can choose to have free credit monitoring at all three bureaus for at least 4 years. Or you can choose to have a cash payment of up to $125. To do this, you are certifying you have credit monitoring. Personally I chose this option as I have monitoring services through one of my credit cards, but you’ll be able to make a choice on your own. You need to click one of these options to move forward. Click NEXT
- Page titled Section 2 – if you’ve spent and documented time dealing with identity theft or fraud caused by the data breach, or trying to avoid fraud or identity theft, you can be compensated $25 per hour for up to 20 hours. You will need to document your time in this section if you want to make a claim for time. I imagine many of you will not, so just click NEXT.
- Page titled Section 3 – If you’ve lost or spent money and have not been reimbursed those funds from insurance or other means, you can submit a claim for up to $20,000 total. You would need to provide documentation of this claim in order to receive any compensation. If you have it, please click the box and you will get further instructions on how to provide the reports. If you do not, click NEXT
- Page titled Section 4 – You must choose to receive a check or a pre-paid card. I’d recommend you choose Check and click NEXT
- The last page is titled Your Claim Summary. You’ll read through and verify the information you’ve completed on the previous screens. You will then need to check the two boxes in the Your Signature section at the bottom of the page (if the information you’ve provided is accurate) and then type your name to electronically sign the form. Click on SUBMIT and then you’re all done!
We expect the process will take several months to wrap up, as the deadline to become part of this settlement is January 22, 2020. At some point after that date, we expect the checks to be issued and mailed. This won’t be right away in any circumstance, so you’ll need to be patient with the process.
We hope this is a helpful guide. As always please let us know if there’s anything we can do and we’ll be glad to assist you!
Jude Boudreaux, CFP® is a Partner and Senior Financial Planner in the New Orleans office of The Planning Center, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm.
Please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.