No timeline for cash payouts from Equifax breach

Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Buffalo: Be wary of scams

Mike Baggerman
February 17, 2020 - 3:00 am

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Millions of people impacted by the 2017 Equifax breach have still not received the $125 payment promoted by the settlement agency.

The settlement agency still has no timetable for sending out the money for the millions affected by the breach. Last year, those affected by the breach could file a claim to get the $125 or free credit monitoring. The company set a deadline for an extended claims period deadline for January 22, though some have received emails from the administrator as recently as this month requesting information that may not have entered during initial claim, such as the name of their credit monitoring agency.

OFFICIAL EQUIFAX BREACH SETTLEMENT WEBSITE

In September 2017, the credit monitoring company announced a data breach that impacted the personal information of 147 million people. Equifax denied any wrongdoing as part of a $700 million class action settlement.

When Noelle Carter of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Buffalo first heard about additional emails sent by the company, she had fears that it was a scam.

"If you go directly to the Equifax breach website, you'll see they say the period to confirm your credit monitoring to get your financial reimbursement has expired," Carter said. "I would be very wary of any emails you receive regarding the Equifax breach asking you to verify information."

A phone call to the Equifax breach settlement administrator confirmed that the e-mail sent on February 1 was legitimate. Still, Carter said you should be on alert and said to double check hyperlinks they send you by hovering your cursor over the link to see the actual site you would go to.

"It may actually not be the Equifax site," she said. "It might be a phishing email that can get your information and open you up to additional threat of identity theft."

The Federal Trade Commission warned consumers of fake settlement websites last July. They remind consumers that you'll never have to pay to file a claim for benefits and anyone who calls you to try and get you to file a claim is almost certainly a scammer.

Carter recommends that if you fall victim to a phishing email to monitor your credit report annually to catch any fraudulent activity. She also urges anyone worried about their information to place a fraud alert on their credit report.

"That way if anyone tries to open a new account, the company who is trying to access your credit report to approve that credit needs to contact you personally to verify it's actually you who is trying to take out that line of credit," Carter said. "If you're not looking to open up any new types of credit...you can actually put a freeze on your credit report, which means no one can access your credit report at all. That will stop anyone from opening up credit in your name. You would have to unfreeze your credit report if you want to apply for any kind of credit."

It's unlikely that people who requested the $125 will receive the full amount. The amount you receive may be significantly lower depending on the validity, number, and amount of claims filed.

Last week, reports surfaced that Chinese militants were behind the 2017 hack. Chinese authorities denied any involvement.

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