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Are you eligible for a $20,000 payment from Equifax data breach?

Are you eligible for Equifax payout funds?
  • Consumers harmed by the 2017 data breach at Equifax can claim as much as $20,000 in damages from the credit bureau.
  • About $425 million of the $700 million Equifax settlement with federal regulators is set aside for nearly 150 million victims. 
  • But some victims of the data hack could have a hard time proving they were ever financially damaged by the breach. 

Consumers impacted by the massive 2017 data breach at Equifax are eligible to claim as much as $20,000 from the credit bureau after it reached a colossal $700 million settlement with federal regulators that was announced Monday. Up to $425 million will be set aside for the nearly 150 million victims of the hack.

But many consumers impacted by the breach are unlikely to see that kind of payout, according to CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger. She told CBS This Morning it will be difficult for people to prove they were actually financially damaged by the data privacy scandal.

"It's basically very difficult to understand whether or not that breach — let's assume you were breached — whether it was used for nefarious reasons," Schlesinger said.

Victims cannot file claims until the settlement is approved. However, consumers can sign up for email updates with the Federal Trade Commission for a tool it will launch for victims to check whether their personal and financial information was impacted. They can also check for updates on the case from the FTC website.

If a claim is successful, victims of the breach can also receive free credit monitoring for up to 10 years, as well as receive free identity restoration services for at least seven years if their identity was stolen. 

Consumers who don't wish to enroll in the free credit monitoring offered by the settlement may be eligible for a cash payment of $125, the FTC said Monday.  

No meaningful change 

Consumer advocates argue that Equifax after the dust has settled has not meaningfully faced any consequences for the data breach. The $700 million settlement is the largest-ever won for a data breach, according to Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl A. Racine. But Schlesinger noted that Equifax already had $690 million set aside for potential damages.

The settlement also does not outline material reforms for Equifax and other credit bureaus to beef up their security systems, Schlesinger said, meaning personal information can still be compromised. Equifax allegedly failed to fix its network for months after discovering the vulnerability that led to the 2017 breach.

"Nothing in the [credit] monitoring reporting business has substantively changed and I think consumer advocates are upset about that," Schlesinger said.

Even the stock price for Equifax, after plummeting some 40% right after the breach, has since climbed back to pre-breach levels of nearly $140 a share.

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