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Can you really just go to the Equifax website and get $125?

Although dozens of people have said on Facebook that you can easily get the $125 from the Equifax data breach settlement, the answer is no, you can’t.

When you go to the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website to the File a Claim page, you need to list what activities you did related to the breach that cost you money. For up to 10 hours, you don’t need to provide any documentation.

You’ll be asked if you want money or free credit monitoring. If you request money, you have to say that you have credit monitoring for at least six months.

I listed time spent freezing my credit reports, which I did earlier this year. So, we’ll see if I get the $125 or a lesser amount.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to freeze your credit. It’s free. That means you contact the three credit bureaus and put a hold on the granting of any new credit for you.

When a scam artist steals your information and tries to open credit card accounts or get loans in your name, the person will be blocked. You can easily remove the freezes if you want to get a credit card or a loan. Freezing your credit won’t affect your credit score.

Click here to get the U.S. PIRG’s directions on on how to freeze your credit.

If you want to sign up for free credit monitoring before you try to get the Equifax settlement money, you can get it from Credit Karma or WalletHub.

Credit Karma’s credit monitoring is for two of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion and Equifax, while WalletHub’s is for TransUnion only.

But, be cautious about these two free credit monitoring services. The reason they’re offered is to get you to buy services from them. Don’t do it.

The Federal Trade Commission urged consumers Wednesday to select the credit monitoring option from the Equifax settlement instead of money.

The agency said there has been so much interest in the $125 that there may not be enough money in the $31 million settlement amount to pay everyone $125. Data from 147 million consumers was stolen.

“Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year,” said Robert Schoshinski, assistant director for the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection. “And this monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than any you may have already, because it monitors your credit report at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies, and it comes with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services.”

For those who have already submitted claims for this cash payment, look for an email from the settlement administrator, Schoshinski said.

They’ll be asking you for the name of the credit monitoring service you already have. Or, if you want to change your mind, you’ll have a chance to switch to the free credit monitoring. You can also email the settlement administrator, JND, at info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

I hope this information is helpful. It’s good so many consumers are interested in this topic. However, the fines aren’t large enough to repair the damage done. See “$700 Million Equifax Fine Is Still Too Little Too Late.”

For details on the Equifax settlement, see “Equifax to Pay Up to $700 Million for 2017 Data Breach.”


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