In 2017, Equifax had a security breach that released personal information of 147 million people. Hopefully the only implication for you due to this breach was heightened awareness of the security of your identity. According to this MarketWatch report:
“Equifax has not seen instances of stolen data being used for identity theft, and it has not found hacked personal data for sale on the dark web since the September 2017 breach”
However, the same article goes on to say that at least the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office saw a rise in consumer complaints about alleged identify theft. I know I was inspired to put a credit freeze on my accounts, which I learned put me in a surprisingly small 8% of the population who chose to do so.
Are you due a settlement
What you might not YET know is that Equifax has announced a settlement that will provide cash payments to those who have been affected. Because nearly half of people living in the U.S. were impacted by the breach, it may be worth your time to check out the website to learn more about it. Or, if you want to see if you were among those affected by the data breach, all you have to do is fill in some information here.
Just by making the list, you are eligible to receive up to a maximum of $125, or more if you were directly affected and spent time and/or money resolving the issue. This should only take 5 minutes of your time, which if you qualify for the max of $125, is an hourly rate of $1,500!
If you visit the website, be sure to check out the Key Dates page. While it spells out a number of important deadlines, the one you need to keep your eye on is Jan. 22, 2020. This is the deadline to file an initial claim.
Now for the bad news. Equifax has only set aside $31 million. So, if more than 248,000 people claim (which seems likely), you will likely receive far less than $125. The other option available, instead of a cash payout, is 10 years of credit monitoring, which may be worth more in the end depending on how many people elect the cash payout.
If you were not affected, you still come out ahead
Even if you are not listed on the website, you can benefit from this class action suit. Beginning in 2020, all consumers will be entitled to six free credit reports per year for the next seven years from Equifax. That should make it a little easier to catch fraudulent activity from this or any other security breach. For more information about the suit you can visit the Equifax site.
Additional unclaimed money resources
While you are at it, you may want to check the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to see if there is money owed to you. It is broken down by state, so you’ll have to search those where you have lived. My quick search revealed a $0.10 student loan overpayment in California. Wishing you a more lucrative hunt!
Let us know if we can help
It is important to protect your identity and credit, which factor into protecting, preserving and maximizing your assets in retirement. To learn more about how Briaud Financial Advisors helps clients be better prepared for a successful retirement, contact us today.