Equifax Scam: Be Careful of Fake Settlement Websites
Concerned about the Equifax data breach and whether or not your data was exposed? While you can file an appropriate claim with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are using the breach to create new scams and cons. We will let you know how to safeguard yourself, file a claim, see if your data was exposed, and watch out for tricks, cons, and scams online!
How Did the Equifax Data Breach Come About?
According to a statement from the Federal Trade Commission:
In September of 2017, Equifax announced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. The company has agreed to a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 U.S. states and territories. The settlement includes up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach.
This means that hackers and scammers could be using your information to open up credit cards and for financial transactions you know nothing about. Your entire digital identity might even be compromised and stolen!
How to Take Action and Find out If Your Information Was Compromised
Check Your Status
Go to the eligibility site created by Equifax to see if your data was or was not compromised: Check Your Eligibility
File a Claim
If it were, you would receive a message which confirms the breach of your information and invites you to file a claim.
About Cash Settlements/Payments
Cash payments are available for those whose information was exposed during the breach. These will cap at $20K per person and are based on breach-related expenses. The FTC lists the following conditions for those who believe they deserve reimbursement costs:
- Financial loss for inaccurate or fraudulent charges to your accounts.
- If there were any financial losses associated with freezing or unfreezing your credit report.
- Your payments toward the cost of credit monitoring.
- Money or fees you paid to professionals, such as an accountant or attorney.
- If you paid expenses, including notary fees, document shipping fees and postage, mileage, and phone or cell phone charges.
- Not only that, but you can also be compensated if you spent personal time dealing with the breach. If so, you can be reimbursed for 20 hours at a rate of $25 per hour.
However, since the money awarded to victims caps for specific features and conditions, the limited funds and overwhelming public response may reduce the money you receive. The FTC has a FAQ page regarding this.
Claims which are 10 hours or less should list any actions you took and time you spent doing those things. For claims of 10 hours and more, you should attach documents which show misuse of your credit (identity theft, fraud, etc.). If you used Equifax credit monitoring and related services between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, this reimbursement will be capped at 25% of the “total amount you paid”.
How to Avoid Equifax Scams
Have you heard the joke, “Where’d you hear that?” and the answer is, “On the internet”? We shouldn’t trust everything we see on the internet as scammers and fake phishing websites are rulers of deception. This means that you might receive an email, text, or receive a web link about the Equifax breach, which looks legitimate.
However, it has been created by a scammer who knows that you’ll be more tempted to click on an email or alert which appears official. The email you receive will have an illegitimate “reply to” email address, and the URL links will take you to unofficial websites which might download malware, charge a fee, or further compromise your data.
Only trust the official websites linked above and check the URL of any site you go to. The FTC will not be calling you about the breach, and if received, offers of reimbursement by phone are a scam.
To protect your data, take advantage of the upcoming 2020 law, which allows all United States consumers to have six free credit reports per year. This lasts for seven years and will be through the Equifax website. Children under age 18 will receive 18 years of credit monitoring, upon request.
This means that you will also get those reports along with with free (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) yearly reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. To sign up by email for this offer and receive a reminder, once the year 2020 rolls around, go HERE.
It Isn’t the End of the Story – Yes, Your Data Is Still at Risk (And We Can Help!)
A nationwide breach isn’t the only way scammers, and cyber criminals breach your information. They also acquire it through your email accounts, social media accounts, and more. You might even have online profiles which expose your private information to anyone who does a simple web search — concerned about privacy and your data?
Try a Social Catfish search and discover what our high powered algorithm can find out about you on the web. Once you have the search results, you can better protect and secure your accounts. You can search for yourself, family members, and online connections at Social Catfish.
You have five options to search by name, username, email address, phone number, and even run a reverse image lookup. Protect your data and keep your identity safe, through Social Catfish!