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Equifax Victims Are Entitled To A Cash Settlement, Here's How To Get It

Mike Stewart / AP

News is still breaking about the Equifax website hack, one of the biggest information breaches in American history, and you might be entitled to a cash settlement if your privacy was breached.

What was the Equifax breach?

Equifax is a credit monitoring company. When you take a loan from a bank or a mortgage provider, they check your credit score. That means they have access to a wide variety of personal details, including birth dates, addresses, credit card numbers and even Social Security numbers.

Since Equifax is one of America's largest credit monitors, they also have huge databases of this information. The company says that 143 million people's private details were accessed by criminals who hacked Equifax's website earlier this month - investigators are still trying to identify who's responsible.

Equifax's website.Live Mint

If your private information was accessed during the breach, you may be entitled to sue Equifax, or join a class action lawsuit against the company.

How can I check if I qualify for compensation?

Do not use Equifax's free website to check if your details were accessed during the breach. Using the website automatically waives your right to sue Equifax for damages, unless you opt out of the agreement by mail. Instead, call Equifax at 866-447-7559 and ask if you were affected by the hack.

If your details have been accessed by criminals, it's not a bad idea to sign up for some kind of identify theft protection with your bank, or another credit bureau. Experian, another credit monitor like Equifax, is offering free credit monitoring to U.S. customers for the next year.

But more importantly, he's how you can sign up to receive compensation from Equifax...

There are already more than 50 class action lawsuits against Equifax, which are waiting on court approval to procede.

How can I join a class action lawsuit?

Once they're approved (and they're all likely to be approved) they'll probably be combined into one large class action suit for all of Equifax's victims. That means as long as you find a suit to join, it doesn't make a difference which one you pick. You can find suits by searching this website.

There will also be lots of television ads airing soon with phone numbers for class action suits against Equifax. If a list of victims is published, you might even receive a letter or phone call from a lawyer building a case against the company.

Again, any suit you join will probably become absorbed into a larger case, so it doesn't matter which one you pick. But there are a few things to remember: you don't have to pay upfront to join a suit or receive a settlement, so don't be tricked by a fraudster claiming you do.

Also, be aware that if you join a class action suit, you can't sue Equifax by yourself. These cases usually pay out huge settlements, but they're split between the entire group. If you think your case is special, and you can prove you deserve a large settlement, it's best to approach a lawyer yourself.

But if you do join and regret your decision, you can opt out of the suit and go your own way.

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