Equifax now accepting claims after massive data breach

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The breach exposed the personal data of at least 143 million Americans. If you already use such services, you can request a direct $125 cash payment.

Millions of Americans can now find out if they are eligible to receive $125 from a settlement between Credit bureau Equifax and the Federal Trade Commission.

Before we get to the cash, Equifax will give you free credit monitoring for up to 10 years: the first four years will cover all three credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - and includes $1 million of identity theft insurance.

Consumers have until January 1, 2020, to file initial claims, followed by an additional 4-year period to file claims for out-of-pocket losses that can be traced to the breach, according to Raoul's office. All you have to do is enter your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number in a website operated by the settlement administrator (not Equifax).

The FTC this morning posted the claim website, where you can both check if you were affected by the company's breach and fill out the relatively simple form that lets you specify to which claims you feel entitled.

In addition to losses, you can get recouped for money you spent fighting your identity theft.

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Equifax customers affected by the breach can file a claim online to receive a selection of services and compensation from the company, including cash payments of up to $20,000. If the initial $300 million isn't enough to compensate consumers for their loses, Equifax will dish out up to an additional $125 million. You can get $25 per hour for time spent dealing with the breach for up to 20 hours of work. But, that may not be the best option for you if your credit or identity was compromised or stolen.

As part of the settlement, which received preliminary approval in federal court on Monday, Equifax will pay $300 million into a restitution fund meant to help make whole people who were affected by the breach.

Consumers can make a claim if they can prove they suffered identity theft "fairly traceable" to the 2017 breach or if they can document they spent time and money dealing with securing their credit because of the breach even if they weren't subject to identity theft. And, as part of the class action lawsuit, victims of the breach are now able to file a claim to get a piece of the $700 million settlement. It must also make it easier for consumers to freeze and thaw their credit and to dispute inaccurate information in credit reports.

If you are now paying for monitoring and will be for six more months, begin gathering bills or receipts to substantiate your costs. If you select "yes", you will be presented with a form asking you to provide detailed information and to upload documents supporting your claim.

If you're the type who likes to hedge your bets, perhaps signing up for a service for six months and then requesting the payment would be good. Here's what you should know.

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