You may remember that two years ago on July 29, 2017, one of the three top credit reporting companies was the victim of a major data breach. Equifax announced that the personal and financial information of approximately 148 million Americans had likely been compromised. Sensitive information included in the compromise included names, birthdates, addresses, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. Since Equifax receives information from financial institutions to determine credit scores, more than direct customers of Equifax are victims. If you have made any payment toward a loan or credit card previous to July 29, 2017, there is a possibility that your financial information was exposed.
Recently Equifax settled with the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Conditions of the settlement include
- Up to 10 years of free credit monitoring OR $125 payout in lieu of monitoring
- Up to $20,000 in compensation
- Free credit report for all US customers
- Free help recovering from identity theft
Please be cautious if you sign up for settlement options. It is common for cyber-criminals to create fake websites and call centers to gain additional personal information in these instances. In fact the FTC is already warning the public about this threat. Be wary of sites when searching and navigating to websites about the Equifax breach settlement. The FTC is providing the accurate claim site information on their home page. Currently law enforcement is working to take down fraudulent Equifax settlement sites. Equifax will not reach out to you directly to file a claim, so any calls or emails you receive about it are likely fraudulent. Payment is not needed to file a report. For more information, visit the FTC website at https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/equifax-data-breach-settlement