It’s been almost two years since Equifax announced that they were the target of a hack that compromised the personal data of more than 145 million Americans. That’s about half the U.S. adult population! The breach was also shocking because Equifax isn’t just any old company. They’re one of the big three national credit agencies that maintain—and are supposed to protect—our most confidential information.
Now, under a global settlement filed on July 22, Equifax is going to spend up to $425 million to help people affected by the breach. If you have a credit report in the U.S., there’s a good chance your personal information was exposed. In this post, I’ll explain what happened, who’s entitled to an Equifax payout, and how to file a claim for settlement money.
If you have a credit report in the U.S., there’s a good chance your personal information was exposed.
What Happened in the Equifax Data Breach
Equifax was founded in 1899 and is the oldest of the three credit bureaus, along with Experian and TransUnion. Equifax is based in Atlanta, Georgia and maintains information on over 820 million consumers.
Equifax says hackers lifted consumers’ names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and in some cases, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for over 200,000 people and dispute documents that contain sensitive data for about 180,000.
The Equifax breach isn’t the largest we’ve seen. That dishonor goes to Yahoo, which was the target in several incidents that affected more than one billion user accounts worldwide. However, the Equifax incident is the most massive heist of Social Security numbers.
As I covered in Don’t Get Tricked by These Tax and Social Security Scams, once an identity thief has your personal information, they can wreak havoc on your financial life. Thieves can use it to take over your existing credit accounts, open new accounts, file bogus tax returns, hijack government benefits, and commit other crimes in your name.
How to Know If You’re Part of the Equifax Settlement
So, how do you know if a cybercriminal stole your sensitive data in the Equifax data breach? You can get a quick answer by visiting the official settlement site, equifaxbreachsettlement.com. It includes all the details about the proposed settlement.
Scroll down the page and click the big green button that says, “Find out if your information was impacted.” You’ll need to enter your last name and the…
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