Westford residents affected by the major Equifax data breach of 2017 now have the opportunity to claim compensation for time spent addressing the aftermath of the breach. In late July, Equifax announced a historic $575+ million settlement in the class action lawsuit that followed the data breach, in which hackers gained access to names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. According to CBS News, over 145 million Americans had their data exposed — almost half of the US population. The settlement administrator, JND Legal Administration, has set up a website at equifaxbreachsettlement.com, alerting the public to the settlement’s details and enabling the submission of claims.
The settlement has three sections, the first of which allows all class members (anyone affected by the data breach) to claim $125 or four years of free credit monitoring services. The second section allows claimants to request compensation for time spent addressing the fallout of the breach, such as reviewing accounts and freezing credit, at a rate of $25 an hour for up to 10 hours with no documentation, or up to 20 hours with documentation. This section also allows additional reimbursement for money spent on identity theft prevention services. The third section offers free identity recovery services for victims of identity theft or fraud.
Note that if there are multiple individuals in a household with financial accounts in their name, such as a spouse or teenage children, each individual could be eligible for compensation. To find additional information, determine your eligibility, and file a claim, visit the settlement website.
Be warned: unscrupulous actors have already created spoof websites posing as the settlement website. Before submitting any personal information, verify that the website is authentic and secure. The Federal Trade Commission’s webpage for the settlement contains a valid link to begin the claim process, which readers can use to verify the legitimacy of the settlement website. The settlement website’s authenticity can also be verified by checking its certificate, which was issued by Starfield Technologies. To check the certificate, click on the lock icon on the left of your browser’s address bar. If the lock icon is not present, the website is not secure and does not have a valid certificate. Furthermore, any website that asks you to pay upfront to submit a claim, or anyone who calls you about filing a claim over the phone, is not trustworthy.