Data privacy: 2017 was a pretty rough time for Americans, largely thanks to the year's massive Equifax data breach. This breach was one of the most severe the US has ever seen, exposing the personal information of roughly 143 million Americans. Compromised data included social security numbers, addresses, and more. Due to this breach, Equifax has been tied up in litigation with the FTC for quite some time. Now, the two sides have finally reached a settlement.
As part of this settlement, Equifax has created a $300 million fund that will be used to compensate any Americans who were impacted by the event (which is a good portion of them).
If you visit the Equifax Breach Settlement website, you'll be given the opportunity to cash out. First, you'll need to check your eligibility, but if you make it through that stage, Equifax wastes no time in giving you one of two options: you can elect to take a $125 check, or accept 10 years of free credit monitoring.
To get your $125, Equifax says you must already have a credit monitoring service of some kind. This isn't a difficult criteria to fill, though, as there are already plenty of solid free online options out there.
At any rate, $125 isn't necessarily the only cash you'll be entitled to. If you had to spend time researching the breach, dealing with identity theft, or even simply setting up credit alerts or freezes, Equifax might have to compensate you to the tune of $25 per hour (for up to 20 hours).
If you spent fewer than 10 hours dealing with any of these issues, you only need to provide a written explanation for the time loss. If you claim more than 10 hours, though, you'll need to provide supporting documentation, such as screenshots, emails, or other proof.
The second-to-last page on the settlement website lets you file a claim (or claims) to get your money back if you paid for credit monitoring, identity theft protection, or credit freezes "on or after" September 7, 2017. The last page just lets you select your payment preference: you can choose between a pre-paid card or a check.
We don't know when Equifax will be sending off payments to eligible Americans, but we'll update this article if we find out.