WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Consumers in the Tri-State Area may be receiving money from claims about credit monitoring or identity theft protection as part of the data breach deal with the FTC announced today.
The settlement with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as 48 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, would provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty, and other relief.
The breach was one of the largest ever to threaten the private information. The consumer reporting agency, based in Atlanta, did not detect the attack for more than six weeks. The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases, data from passports.
Affected consumers may be eligible to receive money by filing one or more claims for conditions including money spent purchasing credit monitoring or identity theft protection after the breach and the cost of freezing or unfreezing credit reports at any consumer reporting agency.
The FTC process to file claim is not open yet, but a page has been set up for people to get FTC email alerts about the settlement.
All impacted consumers would be eligible to receive at least 10 years of free credit-monitoring, at least seven years of free identity-restoration services, and, starting on Dec. 31 and extending seven years, all U.S. consumers may request up to six free copies of their Equifax credit report during any 12-month period.
If consumers choose not to enroll in the free credit monitoring product available through the settlement, they may seek up to $125 as a reimbursement for the cost of a credit-monitoring product of their choice. Consumers must submit a claim in order to receive free credit monitoring or cash reimbursements.
“Companies that profit from personal information have an extra responsibility to protect and secure that data,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach that affected approximately 147 million consumers. This settlement requires that the company take steps to improve its data security going forward, and will ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud.”
The company said earlier this year that it had set aside around $700 million to cover anticipated settlements and fines.
The settlement must still be approved by the federal district court in the Northern District of Georgia.
Shares of Equifax Inc. dipped slightly before the opening bell.
From FTC: Equifax Data Breach Settlement What You Should Know
The Federal Trade Commission is posting updates for consumers to file a claim online at ftc.gov/equifax.
If you were affected by the breach, you may be eligible for benefits.
1. Free Credit Monitoring or $125 Cash Payment
You can get at least 4 years of free credit monitoring of your credit report at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). On top of that, you can get up to 6 more years of free credit monitoring of your Equifax credit report. That’s a total of 10 years of free credit monitoring. (Minors affected by the breach are eligible for even more free credit monitoring.)
If you have credit monitoring that will continue for at least 6 months and you decide not to enroll in the free credit monitoring offered in the settlement, you may be eligible for a cash payment of $125.
2. Reimbursement for Your Time and Other Cash Payments
You may be eligible for reimbursement and cash payments up to $20,000 for:
- time you spent protecting your identity or recovering from identity theft, up to 20 hours at $25 per hour
- money you spent protecting your identity or recovering from identity theft, like the cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report or unauthorized charges to your accounts
- up to 25% of the cost of Equifax credit monitoring or identity protection products you bought between September 7, 2016 and September 7, 2017
3. Free Identity Restoration Services
You are eligible for free identity restoration services for at least 7 years that you can use if someone steals your identity or you experience fraud.
The claims process will start after court approval. To learn more about the settlement, go to ftc.gov/Equifax. We’ll update that page when there’s new information.
You can also sign up to get FTC email updates about this settlement.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)