Equifax consumers face uphill battle for claims

By Evan Sully

July 22 (Reuters) - Consumers affected by the massive Equifax Inc data breach in 2017 will not reap any windfalls from the credit reporting company's $700 million U.S. settlement announced on Monday, but may face a cumbersome process to get compensation.

Federal Trade Commission officials said those among the 147 million consumers who had to spend time or money to protect their information or fight identity theft after the September 2017 data breach could be entitled to compensation.

Consumers can file documents detailing what sort of information might have been stolen or harmed by identity theft. They need not prove the theft occurred during the Equifax hack, but simply show their identities were stolen after the breach, officials added.

Consumers can also seek repayment for time spent responding to the Equifax breach, at $25 per hour for up to 20 hours. Documentation must be provided, but consumers can "self-certify" up to 10 hours. Any time spent addressing identity theft or fraud issues after the breach, seeking credit monitoring, or freezing credit reports can be reimbursed.

Equifax will cover the cost of four years of credit monitoring from all three credit bureaus, including Experian Plc and TransUnion, and up to $1 million in identity theft protection. After that, Equifax will provide another six years of credit monitoring.

Anyone who was a minor at the time of the breach is eligible for 18 years of free credit monitoring.

"That is a significant benefit," said Norman Siegel of Kansas City's Stueve Siegel, an attorney and chairman of the settlement committee who led the negotiations on behalf of consumers in class-action lawsuits. "We have also tried to make this process as simple as possible."

The settlement is subject to court approval.

(Reporting by Evan Sully; Additional reporting by Pete Schroeder in Washington; Editing by Richard Chang)

2019-07-23 01:00:07

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