WEB EXTRA: Watch out for fake settlement sites

Web Extras

FTC: Scammers create phony Equifax claim settlement sites to trick consumers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Your private information is at risk. Equifax acknowledged as much after the massive data breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 150 million people. 

The settlement includes up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach, according to the Federal Trade Commission. 

The FTC and the Better Business Bureau are getting reports of scammers trying to exploit the system designed to help people find out if they were targeted. 

Fake sites are designed to look like the official settlement claims site

The FTC wants you to know you do not have to pay to file a claim for these benefits, and anyone who calls and tries to get you to file a claim is likely a scammer. 

To file a claim, the website http://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/file-a-claim was created. 

You can file a claim for: 

  • Free credit monitoring or $125 cash payment
  • Reimbursement for your time and other cash payments (capped at $20,000)
  • Free help recovering from identity theft
  • Free credit reports for all U.S. consumers

The FTC posted Wednesday on its blog the response has been so overwhelming, that if you haven’t submitted your claim yet, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead. The FTC believes the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year. 

Randy Hutchinson with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South encourages you to check the Equifax link to see if you were impacted by the data breach and file, sooner, rather than later, because of important deadlines for benefits. 

“If you already have credit monitoring, it’s really an individual decision as to whether the credit monitoring you already have or what’s being offered here is a better deal,” said Hutchinson. “It’s for four years and most of the credit monitoring programs I found on Google cost more than that for one year.” 

Even if you weren’t impacted by the breach or decide not to file a claim, Hutchinson suggests you pull the free credit report you’re entitled to from each credit reporting agency annually, and perhaps one or two more of the six extra ones from Equifax for the seven-year period they’re offered as part of the settlement. 

“Pull them more frequently if you have any reason to suspect you may become the victim of identity theft,” he said.

The FTC reports the monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than what many consumers have already because it monitors your credit report at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies. It also features up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and identity restoration services.

Hutchinson said you can sign up for important updates about the settlement. Do that by going to the FTC link: ftc.gov/Equifax.

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