If you were affected by the Equifax 2017 data breach, you are running out of time to file a claim for free credit monitoring or compensation.
Jan. 22 is the deadline to file a claim as part of the settlement.
Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million to settle federal and state investigations into how it handled a data breach that compromised the personal information of nearly 147 million people.
On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia finalized the settlement, announced by the Federal Trade Commission on July 22. The landmark data breach was the largest-ever in U.S. history.
The settlement includes $425 million to help consumers affected by the breach and a restitution fund with at least $380.5 million allotted to consumer compensation. The fund will also include an additional $125 million, if the initial funds run out.
Originally, consumers were told they could receive free credit monitoring for 10 years or up to $125.
But, on July 31, the FTC warned that the payouts would be "nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed." In September, consumers who filed for the cash payouts early on learned they had to deal with more red tape and submit documentation of credit monitoring in order to be eligible.
Equifax breach website and eligibility
To confirm you're eligible to file a claim, you can use a tool posted on the Equifax Data Breach Settlement website, www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com. You will be required to enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. You can also call the Settlement Administrator at 1-833-759-2982 to check eligibility. Or you can request a claim form be mailed to you by calling the Equifax settlement administrator or emailing info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.
How to file an Equifax settlement claim
Claims can be filed online through the website. You can also file by mail by downloading a hard copy of the claim and mailing to the Equifax Data Breach Settlement Administrator. Claims for minors must be sent by U.S. mail for additional security reasons.
What can I get for filing a claim?
You can get at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring offered through Experian. You can also get up to six more years of free one-bureau credit monitoring through Equifax, according to the the settlement website.
If you already have credit monitoring services that will continue for at least six more months, you may be eligible for a cash payment of up to $125. However, the website warns the amount that you receive "may be substantially less than $125, depending on the number of claims that are filed."
Those who spent time dealing with fraud or identity theft can make a claim for reimbursement for $25 per hour for up to 20 hours. The first 10 hours have to be certified. You'll also have to provide documentation for the additional hours. If you paid expenses following the breach for personal information being exposed, you are eligible for compensation up to $20,000 per person. These expenses include:
Losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts
The cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report
The cost of credit monitoring
Fees you paid to professionals like an accountant or attorney
Other expenses like notary fees, document shipping fees and postage, mileage, and phone charges
What happens if I don't file?
If you miss the deadline or choose to not file, you can still get assistance, according to the FTC.
Starting this year, all consumers in the U.S. will qualify for six free credit reports each year for seven years from the Equifax website, in addition to the one free Equifax report – along with Experian and TransUnion reports – you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can also get free help recovering from identity theft for at least seven years with free identity restoration services. If you discover misuse of your personal information, call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982. You will be given instructions for how to access free identity restoration services.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Equifax settlement: Deadline to file claim for data breach is Jan. 22