In 2017 hackers stole personal data for more than 147 million people from Equifax. Nearly ½ of all Americans were affected by the breach. As part of the settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, everyone whose data was stolen can get ten years of credit monitoring or up to $125.The payout could be as much as $20,000 if you can prove your identity was stolen.
Sounds like great news, but you need to read the fine print.
If your personal information was stolen, but your identity has not been compromised, then you can file a claim by January 22, 2020, to receive up to $125 or 10-years of credit monitoring. The $125 sounds like a great option, but the fine print details that only $31 million has been set aside. If everyone eligible claimed their share, it would work out to $0.21 per person. Obviously, everyone won’t apply, and if less than 248,000 people apply, you’ll get your $125.
If your information was stolen, you must assume your information is out there and will be out there forever. The best way to prevent identity theft is to play good defense. A key part of this defense is to have a credit monitoring service. A credit monitoring service notifies you immediately if someone opens an account in your name or Social Security Number.
We are recommending you take Equifax up on the ten years of free credit monitoring. The retail value of this type of service is between $120-$240 per year.
If your identity has been stolen after the breach in 2017 and you have spent substantial time and money to correct the issue, then you can file to receive reimbursement for the time you spent fixing the problem. You will need to submit detailed records of your expenditures and time spent to receive the larger amount by January 22, 2020.
Follow The Welch Group every Tuesday morning on WBRC Fox 6 for the Money Tuesday segment.
Fox 6 Talking Points:
- Hackers stole data from over 147 million people through Equifax in 2017
- The Federal Trade Commission is offering ten years of free monitoring or up to $125 to those affected
- Claims must be filed by January 22, 2020
- A solid defense is a good credit monitoring service
Michael Wagner CPA, CFP, is a Partner and Senior Advisor and also the Director of Business Development at The Welch Group, LLC, which specializes in providing Fee-Only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. Michael is a graduate of The University of Alabama and holds the Certified Public Accountant certification and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. In addition, Michael is a frequent guest on local television stations as an expert on various financial planning matters. Visit The Welch Group web site at www.welchgroup.com. Consult your financial advisor before acting on this advice.