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Equifax data breach settlement

In 2017, Equifax announced a breach that exposed the personal data of approximately 147 million people. The legal settlement is now final. Here’s how you can use the services provided through the settlement to protect and monitor your credit.

Activate your no-cost credit monitoring services

If you were affected by the breach, you were entitled to claim at least four years of free credit monitoring from Experian. The deadline to file a claim to receive this service has passed. Now, it’s time for you to activate the credit monitoring service you claimed.

Experian’s credit monitoring service alerts you to key changes that appear in your credit reports. The service does not freeze your account or protect you from threats before they affect your credit. For more information on taking proactive steps—which you can also take if you didn’t claim credit monitoring as part of the settlement—see below.

If you have already filed a claim, check your e-mail and mail for your credit monitoring access code

If you filed a valid claim, you should have already received an e-mail or postal mail with your access code. The e-mail will be sent by the Equifax Settlement Administrator at info@equifaxbreachsettlement.com and should look something like the illustration below:

You are receiving free membership in Experian Identity Workssm for four years. You must enroll by June 27, 2022.

This service is free for you and provided as a Settlement benefit. You do not need to provide any payment information to enroll and you do not need to cancel the service when it ends. We encourage you to enroll today.

How to enroll:

You must use the above code to enroll by June 27, 2022 (your activation code will not work after this date).

You won’t receive a reminder to enroll before June 27, 2022, so mark your calendar or take a minute now to find the e-mail and take action.

If you deleted the e-mail or aren’t able to find it, visit EquifaxBreachSettlement.com and follow the instructions to contact the administrator. They can resend the message.

Status of financial reimbursement

Cash reimbursement requests (to repay money you lost, or pay for time you spent recovering) that were submitted before the deadline of January 22, 2022, are being processed. For more details and to check your claim status, visit EquifaxBreachSettlement.com .

If you were affected by the Equifax data breach, you can still claim financial reimbursement for costs you incurred, or time you spent dealing with fraud or identity theft, after January 22, 2022. Claims are due by January 22, 2024.

For more details, visit EquifaxBreachSettlement.com .

Steps you can take to protect yourself

Check your credit reports on your own

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the three nationwide credit reporting companies are currently offering free weekly access to your credit reports online at annualcreditreport.com . You can also request up to seven free reports per year through Equifax until 2026.

According to a Federal Trade Commission study, one person in five finds an error in their credit reports. When you check yours, be prepared to take steps to fix incorrect information. Our information on credit reports and sample dispute letters can help you with this process.

Consider placing an initial fraud alert on your credit file

Another way to protect your credit proactively is to place a fraud alert on your file. To do this, you can contact any of the three credit reporting companies. The credit reporting company you make the report to must communicate your alert to the other two credit reporting companies.

An initial fraud alert requires lenders to take reasonable steps to make sure the person making new credit requests in your name is actually you. For example, they may call you if you’ve provided a telephone number on your credit file. An initial fraud alert lasts for one year.

Consider freezing your credit

One way to protect your credit proactively is to contact the three credit reporting companies and place a freeze on your credit. When you freeze your credit, lenders won’t be able to access your credit information. If you apply for things like employment, apartments, or insurance, necessary credit checks can still go through.

You can unfreeze your credit when you’re ready to seek a loan or another transaction that requires a lender to pull your credit report. You’re the only one who can request to lift the credit freeze on your file. Lifting a freeze can take time, so choose this approach only if you’re not currently thinking about taking out a new loan or credit account.