In 2017, credit bureau Equifax was hacked, and the records of approximately 147 million people were compromised. Unsurprisingly, lawsuits were filed, and, as part of a court settlement, those impacted by the breach were ultimately offered a choice between a one-time payment of $125 or four years of free credit monitoring. It may seem like the height of irony—that the credit bureau will monitor your records to make up for its failure to protect your records. But credit monitoring is always important to your financial wellbeing—and even more so following a data breach—so let’s talk about what impacted individuals should do next.
Was My Data Compromised by the Breach?
If you are not sure if you are one of the impacted individuals, you can find out by checking this dedicated database (which was specifically set up for the settlement). If you are not an impacted individual, know that, until 2026, all U.S. consumers are entitled to a free annual credit report.
What If I Am One of the Impacted People?
If you are one of the impacted individuals, you should have received a letter or an email from the settlement administrator. A real email would come to you from this email address: email@example.com. The letter or email will give you a code to access your free credit monitoring. You must activate the code by no later than June 27, 2022; the code won’t work after that. (You can also call the administrator at 1-833-759-2982.)
Inspect Your Credit Report
Carefully inspect each entry of your credit report. Even if you don’t see any fraudulent activity on your account, you may discover other errors on your credit report, such as a “mixed file” (when someone else’s record is mistakenly included in your record).
If you find any issues relating to the data breach, you can file a claim for data breach-related expenses you incur after January 23, 2022, such as:
- Fees for attorneys and accountants to help clear your account
- Losses from fraudulent charges that made using your data
- Ancillary expenses (e.g., costs for notaries, postage, phone bills)
No matter what kind of an issue it is, if you identify any negative information in your credit report, contact an attorney who specializes in representing clients like you—repairing your record and obtaining compensation.