On July 29th, 2017, Equifax allegedly discovered there was a security breach where hackers obtained sensitive information for about 143 million Americans. Some executives in the company sold their stock in Equifax shortly thereafter (they claim that they didn’t know it occurred, but I doubt their claims). As compensation for this security breach, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for a year.
What you should do
First, you need to see if you may have been affected. You can go to this site to check and see if your information may have been obtained by the hackers.
If you were not affected
You can opt to sign up for their free credit monitoring regardless of whether or not you were affected (whether you do that or not is up to you). Monitor your bank accounts and your credit just in case (either manually or by enrolling in a credit monitoring/ID protection program).
If you were affected
If you were affected, Equifax will offer you free credit monitoring for a year. I recommend that you do not accept their offer (especially if you plan to sue them). Instead, I recommend you enroll in a separate credit monitoring program. I recommend programs that will help you restore your identity if it gets stolen. My preferred company is Zander Insurance. Their ID protection program is only $6.75/month for an individual and they will do all the work for you if your ID is stolen. You can also place a security freeze on your credit.
Next, calculate how much it might cost you to be on your identity theft protection program. I assumed that I would probably live another 50 years or so. I multiplied $6.75 (this is the amount that I now pay per month for ID protection now that I have been affected by the breach) by 12 (12 months in a year). This means that I would be spending $81 a year to protect my identity due to this breach. 1 I am assuming I’ll live for about another 50 years so I multiplied 50 by $81. This means that over that amount of time it would cost me about $4,050 for ID protection. If you get an attorney find out what percentage of your winnings they will take and add that cost to the amount that you will be asking for. My attorney is taking 33% so I multiplied $4,050 by .33. This means my attorney’s fee will be about $1,336.50. 2 I added this fee to $4,050 and got $5385.50. I then account for 2% inflation (because the price of the ID theft plan will probably go up as inflation goes up). I got the amount of inflation by multiplying 5,385.50 by .02 percent and I got $107.77. I added 107.77 to 5,385.50 and got $5,493.27. Therefore, I will be asking for $5,500.00 in compensation from Equifax. If they offer me any less, I will not settle and I will take them to court.
Finding an Attorney
There are a quite a few attorneys doing class-action suits. I opted to join a class-action suit; however, I joined one where they would need my approval to settle. DO NOT JOIN A CLASS ACTION SUIT THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE YOUR ATTORNEY TO CHECK WITH YOU PRIOR TO SETTLING. You can also hire your own attorney to go after them without joining a class-action suit. I am using Corboy & Demetrio.
How to Handle Equifax
If you have an attorney, do not contact Equifax. Let your attorney handle the case for you. If you are not using an attorney (not recommended), make sure all correspondence with Equifax is in writing. Do not accept any settlement that is less than the amount of your lifetime cost for identity theft protection (plus attorney fees if applicable).
1. If you already had credit monitoring prior to the Equifax Breach, this step is not important.
2. If you don’t plan to use an attorney, you can skip this step, but I recommend you use one.