A person in a suit touches a virtual button labeled "COMPENSATION" while holding a notebook.

Equifax Data Breach | Do You Have A Valid Claim For Compensation?

For a credit monitoring and breach recovery firm, Equifax sure didn’t do a great job of keeping their own data secure. In 2017, the company suffered a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people.

Unfortunately, many consumers remain unaware their private data was leaked, potentially exposing their financial future to fraud, theft, and cyber attacks. 

At Kazerouni Law Group, APC, we’ve witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of data hacks, learning how important it is for people to understand their rights in these situations.

We aim to empower consumers with the knowledge needed to understand the Equifax data breach, how it could still damage your financial future, and when a data breach attorney can help fight back.

Equifax Data Breach | What Happened?

In 2017, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the United States, announced that they had experienced a data breach. 

The breach occurred between May and July of 2017 but was not disclosed to the public until September of that year.

During this time, hackers were able to gain access to sensitive personal information including:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Social security numbers
  • Addresses
  • Driver’s license numbers 

The hack wasn’t limited to nearly half the US population either. Over 15 million UK citizens and tens of thousands worldwide were also affected.

How Did the Equifax Data Breach Affect Consumers?

Identity Theft

Private data stolen by hackers is used for a variety of nefarious purposes. However,  the most significant threat to consumers is identity theft. 

With access to personal information such as social security and credit card numbers, criminals can open new lines of credit or make fraudulent purchases in the victim’s name.

Unfortunately, clearing up the mess of identity theft is a lengthy and often stressful process involving: 

  • Filing police reports
  • Contacting credit bureaus and creditors
  • Freezing credit and monitoring for any suspicious activity.

Even with all these precautions, identity theft victims may still face long-term financial repercussions and damage to their credit scores. 

Moreover, tens of millions of consumers may still be at risk due to Equifax’s delayed disclosure and inadequate response to the breach.

This is why Equifax data breach victims need to get your free consultation with a consumer protection law firm. With their help, you protect your financial future and recover compensation for damages.

Significant Financial Losses

Equifax logo seen on magnifying glass

Every data leak, whether from a large corporation or a smaller organization, can lead to significant financial losses for consumers. 

In the case of the Equifax data breach, victims may have suffered financial harm due to:

  • Identity theft expenses 
  • Loss of income due to fraudulent activity on credit accounts
  • Difficulty obtaining loans or mortgages due to damaged credit scores
  • Cost of credit monitoring services 

There is also lost earning potential due to the time and effort spent dealing with the aftermath of the data breach. 

The risk of incurring even more financial losses from this breach persists, so individuals may need to seek compensation with the help of an experienced consumer protection attorney.

Reduced Credit Score

You need a good credit score to obtain loans, mortgages, and even certain employment opportunities. 

When companies like Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion fail to protect your sensitive data, your credit score can be damaged, further affecting your financial future. 

We don’t know to what extent the Equifax data breach may have affected credit scores. However, it’s crystal clear that victims are at risk for lower scores and potential denials for financial services whenever nefarious actors misuse private data.

What Happened in the Equifax Data Breach?

Investigations found that the company failed to take basic security measures that could have prevented the breach, including but not limited to:

  • Failure to patch a known vulnerability in their system 
  • Use of weak username and password combinations for sensitive information
  • Lack of encryption on sensitive data 

The Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Credit Bureau, and all 50 U.S. states found these behaviors unacceptable and successfully secured over $600 million in settlements for Equifax victims. 

Additionally, Equifax needed to provide affected individuals free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.

Separate from the settlements, Equifax needed to spend over $1.6 billion on security upgrades and other remediation efforts. 

These upgrades ensure the credit reporting agency meets the highest security standards and better protects consumers’ sensitive information in the future.

How Do I Know if the Equifax Breach Affected Me?

Even if you cannot link recent identity theft, fraudulent activity, or denial of credit services to the Equifax breach, you can prove the breach compromised your data.

Equifax has set up a website for individuals to check their status. The simple-to-use form requires you to enter your last name and the last six digits of your social security number. 

Concerned consumers can also call the Equifax data breach helpline for assistance and more information about their status.

If either scenario confirms that you were affected by the breach, it’s essential to protect your financial future and seek compensation for any damages incurred with the help of an experienced consumer protection lawyer.

What Can I Do if the Equifax Data Breach Affected Me?

If you find out that the Equifax data breach affected you, protect yourself and seek compensation:

  • Freeze your credit: This will prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name without your consent. You can also place a fraud alert on your credit report.
  • Monitor all financial accounts: Keep an eye on your bank, credit card, and other financial accounts for any unauthorized activity.
  • File a police report: This will create a paper trail in case you need to provide proof of identity theft.
  • Seek legal counsel: An experienced consumer protection lawyer can explain your rights and guide you through seeking compensation for damages.

Data privacy experts also suggest changing passwords for personal accounts such as email, social media, and online banking as a precautionary measure. 

Criminals can use the private data leaked in the breach to access these accounts, putting individuals at risk for further financial and reputational harm.

Am I Entitled to Compensation for the Equifax Data Hack?

Yes, it is possible to receive compensation for damages incurred due to the Equifax data breach. 

Though the value of your potential compensation may vary based on the harm suffered and associated expenses, settlement compensation amounts could include:

  • $25 per hour for time spent dealing with the breach and its consequences (up to 20 hours)
  • Up to $20,000 for out-of-pocket losses
  • As much as $125 for being an affected consumer

To determine the actual value of your Equifax data privacy claim, get a free consultation with an experienced consumer protection attorney. 

Their intimate understanding of data privacy and consumer protection laws can better equip victims to seek maximum compensation

Why Do I Need A Consumer Protection Lawyer?

On the surface, the simplicity of discovering your status on the Equifax website and filling out a form to receive compensation would make hiring a lawyer unnecessary. 

However, this is rarely the case.

A person points to a transparent screen displaying the words "DATA BREACH" with lock icons.

Beyond the impossible feeling of taking on one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the world, numerous other facets of a settlement claim are challenging to navigate without an experienced lawyer. 

Most notably, the fact that the Equifax settlement was tied to a class action lawsuit means that there are specific deadlines and requirements for filing a claim. Failure to adhere to these guidelines could result in you missing out on the compensation you are entitled to.

However, it isn’t competent legal support that makes hiring a lawyer advantageous; it’s also their compassionate legal support through the often overwhelming process of having your privacy violated. 

With many identity theft victims citing feelings of betrayal, fear, and embarrassment, an advocate who understands your rights and fights for your best interest can make all the difference in finding justice and closure. 

Equifax Data Breach FAQ

How do I know if I am part of the Equifax settlement?

If you filed a claim or received a notice in the mail, you are likely part of the Equifax settlement. You can check online or call the Equifax settlement administrator to confirm your status. You may still recover compensation if you filed an initial claim form before January 22, 2024.

How will I receive compensation from the Equifax settlement? 

Depending on the type of settlement you join, compensation may come through check, direct deposit, or pre-paid cards. 

When will I receive compensation from the Equifax settlement?

Some compensation awards have been sent out, while others are pending review. If you worry about payment status, contact a consumer protection attorney to resolve the issue.

Will the settlement help protect me against future identity fraud? 

While the settlement strives to compensate for damages incurred, it cannot wholly protect individuals from future identity fraud. To prevent further harm, monitor your financial accounts and take proactive measures such as freezing your credit and regularly changing passwords.

What is a class-action lawsuit? 

A class-action lawsuit is a legal case filed by a group of people who suffered similar harm or damages from the same party. In the Equifax case, this allowed individuals to join together in seeking compensation for the data breach rather than filing individual lawsuits.

Did I have to opt-in to the Equifax class-action lawsuit? 

No, you did not have to opt in to participate in the Equifax class-action lawsuit. If you were an eligible consumer affected by the data breach, the settlement automatically included you. Those who opted out of the settlement may pursue their own individual lawsuits against Equifax.  

No one should suffer the consequences of a data hack, especially due to the negligence and lack of protection from a major corporation like Equifax.

Fortunately, compromised consumers aren’t without options. If the Equifax data breach affected you, take legal action now and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Get a free consultation with Kazerouni Law Group, APC, to learn more about your consumer rights and legal options in a data privacy hack.

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