Wednesday is deadline for claims in 2017 Equifax data breach

FILE - This July 21, 2012, file photo shows signage at the corporate headquarters of Equifax Inc. in Atlanta. The deadline to seek cash payments and claim free services as part of Equifax's $700 million settlement over a massive data breach is Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)
FILE - This July 21, 2012, file photo shows signage at the corporate headquarters of Equifax Inc. in Atlanta. The deadline to seek cash payments and claim free services as part of Equifax's $700 million settlement over a massive data breach is Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Wednesday is the deadline to seek cash payments and claim free services as part of Equifax's $700 million settlement over a massive data breach.

The breach in 2017, affecting 147 million people, was one of the largest ever to threaten private information. The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases, data from passports. Criminals can use those bits of personal information to commit identity theft.

Equifax's settlement with the U.S. government entitles affected consumers to free credit-monitoring and identity-restoration services for the next several years. Consumers may also be eligible for money for their time or reimbursement for certain services.

You can make a claim if you can show you suffered identity theft "fairly traceable" to the breach or if you can document you spent time and money dealing with securing your credit because of the breach, even if you weren't subject to identity theft. That could include signing up for credit-monitoring services.

Here is what you need to know about the settlement and what actions you can take:

WHAT CAN YOU GET FROM THE SETTLEMENT?

You may be eligible for up to $20,000 in reimbursements for losses from unauthorized charges to affected accounts, legal and other fees, credit-monitoring or identity-theft-protection services and expenses related to freezing or unfreezing credit reports. For the time spent dealing with the breach, you can seek $25 per hour for up to 20 hours as compensation.

All impacted consumers are eligible to receive 10 years of free credit monitoring, at least seven years of free identity-restoration services, and, starting in 2020, six free copies of their Equifax credit report each year for seven years. That's on top of the free copy you can already get by law every 12 months from each of the three big agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. For minors, free credit monitoring increases to 18 years.