Equifax Free Credit Monitoring Settlement Letters

Your ticket to free credit monitoring for four years may be in your inbox.

If you signed up for this service a few years ago as part of the settlement of the 2017 massive data breach at credit monitoring company Equifax, you should have received information (or will receive it by the 25th February). According to the Federal Trade Commission, it should come in the form of an e-mail or mailed letter with instructions on how to activate your service.

“It’s sort of the reward…for just about everyone who was a victim of the Equifax data breach,” said John Ulzheimer, credit expert and president of the Ulzheimer Group in Atlanta.

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Following the Equifax data breach in 2017, which compromised the personal information of approximately 147 million consumers – including names, dates of birth and social security numbers – the company ended up be the target of several lawsuits and reached a settlement in 2019 with the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and all US states and territories.

As a result, consumers affected by the breach had the option of signing up for up to $125 or free credit monitoring at the three largest credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. (Consumers who requested cash payments should visit the Settlement Claims Administrator’s website for updates, Equifax told CNBC.)

After implementation was delayed due to legal challenges, the settlement received final court approval last month.

The free credit monitoring service is offered by Experian. You can register through the Experian IdentityWorks website with an authorization code provided in the information you receive. Or you can call 1-877-251-5822.

“It may seem confusing to register with Experian for something that happened with Equifax…but at the end of the day, Equifax pays the bill,” Ulzheimer said.

You do not provide any payment information to register. And if registration instructions arrive by email, make sure they come from the Equifax Breach Settlement administrator ([email protected]). You will not be contacted by telephone regarding the settlement.

Although the original deadline to file a claim was January 22, 2020, consumers are still allowed to file a claim for expenses incurred after that date but before January 22, 2024, due to identity theft or a data breach fraud, according to the FTC. This could include losses due to unauthorized charges on your accounts, as well as fees paid or expenses incurred in connection with recovering from identity theft.

If you haven’t signed up for the service (or don’t want to), you can also “freeze” your credit report for free, Ulzheimer said. This essentially prevents a lender from verifying your report, which means a criminal would not be able to open an account using your personal details. Once the freeze is in place, you need to “unfreeze” it — temporarily or permanently — if you’re applying for credit or a loan so the bank can check your credit. It’s free now too.

However, you will need to contact all three credit reporting companies to cover all your bases.

You can also put a short-term fraud alert on your report, which lasts for one year. As part of a fraud alert, a lender seeking to approve an application must first contact you to verify that the application is not from an impostor.

Additionally, you only need to contact one of the credit companies to raise a fraud alert, which in turn is legally bound to share your opinion with the other two. It is also free. However, it generally does not offer the same level of protection as a gel.

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