Equifax breach: What you need to know about getting a piece of the $700 million settlement

News13 Digital First

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Credit reporting agency Equifax is paying out up to $700 million in the biggest data breach settlement ever.

The settlement was signed between Equifax and the Federal Trade Commission Monday. The case stems from a 2017 hack that left the personal information of around 150 million Americans exposed.

New details from the settlement reveal that victims of this breach could be due up to $20,000 each.

News13 went to the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina to learn more about who’s at risk and how to claim a piece of the payout.

“They are designed to be safe,” Director of Communications Renee Wikstrom said of Equifax. “And they weren’t. This is huge.”

She explained that these payouts are meant to cover any costs associated with identity theft- from credit checks to stolen funds.

“If you were compromised and you weren’t reimbursed from your credit card company, or if it came directly out of your bank account and the bank didn’t compensate you, those types of charges will be covered,” she said.

The agency is also providing 6 credit checks beginning in January 2020 for consumers to keep an eye on their accounts. Wikstrom says that monitoring credit and bank accounts is a critical part of ensuring your identity is secure.

“If you think you were a victim, you want to make sure you’re checking your credit card balances pretty much daily as well as your bank account,” she said.

But sometimes it can take years before scammers steal money with compromised information.

“They’re not going to use all this information at once,” Wikstrom said. “They’re smart about how they scam people. Just because your data has been breached and it may have not shown up now, it may show up in the future”

The settlement is designed to also cover costs for identity fraud cases in years to come.

However, the settlement still needs to be signed off by a federal judge before any claims are made.

“Until that happens, we really don’t know how to apply for any type of compensation,” Wikstrom said.

Equifax has created a website for consumers to check for updates on the case. The Federal Trade Commission also recommends signing up for email updates on the case.

Financial records will be needed when filing a claim. The FTC’s website advises that consumers begin gathering documentation now, so they are ready once claims can be filed.

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