There is news regarding the Equifax data breach settlement and the $125 pay outs to individuals filing claims. The Federal Trade Commission now says that’s probably not going to happen; there will still be pay outs just much smaller.
“The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming,” the FTC says in a statement on its website. “Millions of people have visited this site in just the first week. Because the total amount available for these alternative payments is $31 million, each person who takes the money option is going to get a very small amount. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”
As an alternative, the cash settlement also allows for free credit monitoring which the agency says is a much better value.
“If your information was exposed in the data breach, and you file a valid claim before the deadline, you are guaranteed at least four years of free monitoring at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance, among other benefits. The market value of this product is hundreds of dollars per year.”
If you have already filed a claim for cash, you can change your mind. The settlement administrator will be sending an email to you with the option to amend your claim. The claims website is to be updated soon so check there for more information.
I also need to warn you that scammers have begun to put up fake websites meant to look like the official Equifax claims website. If you haven’t filed a claim but intent to, you want to be sure you’re going to the correct website, and to avoid falling victim to a scammer. Do not use any links found in unsolicited emails or found on social media.
Go directly to the Equifax settlement website at EquifaxBreachSettlement.com or to the FTC’s page: ftc.gov/Equifax.
Also, keep in mind you’ll never have to pay to file a settlement claim, and anyone who calls to get you to file a claim is almost certainly a scammer.
In this the latest data breach, more than 100 million people have found themselves at risk. If you are a Capital One cardholder the company says “it will notify affected individuals through a variety of channels; and will make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to everyone affected.”
The breach exposed the personal information on individuals and small businesses, including names, addresses, zip codes, email addresses, dates of birth and self-reported income. That information was obtained from credit card applications from 2005 to 2019. Furthermore, according to information provided by Capital One, the hacker also obtained customer status data such as credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history and contact info.
Of the potential 100 million affected consumers, 140,000 credit card holders also had their Social Security numbers compromised; and another 80,000 had their linked bank account numbers exposed.
Even though, as individuals, there is nothing we can do to prevent these breaches, they remain an ever-present danger and we are constantly at risk of having our personal information compromised; so, we must all make data security a priority.
Here are some simple things to do:
• Get your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com. Check for any accounts or charges you don’t recognize. You can order a free report from each of the three reporting companies each year. We recommend you spread your requests through-out the year.
• Consider placing a credit freeze on your report. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. And if not a freez think about a fraud alert, so you will at least be notified. Both are free.
• For your credit and debit cards, review your transactions regularly. Make sure no one has misused your card. If you find fraudulent charges, contact the fraud department immediately.
Dennis Horton is the director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.