In a statement on Monday, Equifax said the payout to consumers includes $425 million that will cover credit monitoring and out-of-pocket losses because of the breach, as well as the cost of “identity restoration services” for victims. While Equifax didn’t specify what those services are and how they will work, it did say they would help to “remedy the effects of identity theft and fraud.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the deal must still be approved by the federal district court in the Northern District of Georgia. The rest of the money will go to the federal government.
The settlement means millions of people whose personal information—including social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, and even some driver’s licenses—was exposed on the internet are finally getting a sense of how they will be compensated for the aggravation.
Here’s how it works: The first step is determining whether you were one of the 150 million people affected by the data breach. If you don’t know your status, Equifax is introducing a tool to let people know, which will be available at EquifaxBreachSettlement.com. Sign up to receive an FTC email update to find out when that tool is up and running.
If you were part of the data breach, congratulations! You’re also a class member. Class members are entitled to four years of free credit monitoring (through Experian, lol) or, if you still trust Equifax for some reason, you can also get six more years of free credit monitoring through the company itself. Class members can also opt for a cash payment of $125 for credit monitoring but must have credit monitoring in place for at least six more months.
If credit monitoring turns up evidence of fraud or identity theft, Equifax will pay up to $20,000 to those unlucky folks. That includes:
- Paying class members $25 per hour for up to 20 hours of time they had spent trying to safeguard their data.
- Reimbursing people for out-of-pocket losses, including unauthorized charges; the cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report; fees paid to professionals like an accountant, attorney, or notary; and related expenses. (The website is still bare bones at this point and doesn’t yet say how Equifax will require consumers to verify their costs.)
- Reimbursing up to 25% of the cost of Equifax credit or identity monitoring products paid for in the year before Equifax got around to announcing the data breach.
For now, the website is the best source of information to find out whether you are eligible for a payout and to file a claim. You can also call (toll-free) 1-833-759-2982 for more information.