In September 2017, consumer credit monitoring agency Equifax announced that the private information of 147 million Americans had been exposed in what is now known as one of the largest data breaches in history. Soon after the data breach was announced, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 50 U.S. states and territories filed a class-action lawsuit against Equifax for failing to secure the personal data stored on its network.
As part of a global settlement, Equifax agreed to pay up to $425 million in July 2019 to help people affected by the data breach, which included free credit monitoring. VERIFY viewer Dan recently forwarded our team an email that contains an activation code for free credit monitoring related to the settlement. He wants to know if the email and the website it links to are real.
Are the Equifax Data Breach Settlement email and website real?
Yes, the Equifax Data Breach Settlement email and website are real.
WHAT WE FOUND
Although the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has previously warned of people attempting to scam Equifax cyberattack victims, EquifaxBreachSettlement.com is a real website and the email Dan received is legitimate, an FTC spokesperson confirmed to VERIFY. Web pages featured on the FTC and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s websites also link directly to the EquifaxBreachSettlement.com website.
The FTC spokesperson says the free credit monitoring activation codes related to the settlement have been sent to claimants by email and through the mail since January. The Equifax Breach Settlement website also states “credit monitoring instructions with an activation code will be issued to claimants (who selected that benefit) by email or mail by Feb. 25, 2022,” at the top of its homepage.
While the initial deadline to file a claim in the Equifax settlement was Jan. 22, 2020, the FTC says you can still file a claim for expenses you incur between Jan. 23, 2020, and Jan. 22, 2024, as a result of identity theft or fraud related to the data breach. You also can file a claim for the time you spent recovering from identity theft or fraud between Jan. 23, 2020, and Jan. 22, 2024, and you may be compensated up to $25 per hour up to 20 hours. However, the FTC explains there are limited funds available so your claim may be reduced.
JND Legal Administration, a Washington-based legal services company that is serving as the Equifax data breach settlement administrator, also explains on the settlement website that there were several appeals in the lawsuit, which is why it took so long to send out the free credit monitoring activation codes to claimants.
If you have questions related to the settlement, you can call the Equifax data breach settlement administrator to talk to a live operator at 833-759-2982 or you can visit the settlement website for more information.
More from VERIFY: Yes, the Old Navy class action settlement is real