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Should I Sign the Equifax Waiver?

In the wake of the Equifax data breach, many consumers were shaken to learn that they were victims of a massive hack. Equifax responded quickly, offering those affected help in the form of free identity protection. What many people did not see buried in the legal text was that, by signing, they gave up their right to join forces with others and sue in open court. They bound themselves to settlement by arbitration.

If you’re facing this choice now, you need to understand what signing the waiver means for you and what choices you have to consider before doing so. Read on to learn about the waiver, what it means, and how it affects you.

What Equifax Is Offering

In response to the massive breach, Equifax moved to protect consumers as fast as possible by offering identity protection through a third party. This included free credit checks, monitoring of the social security number, a block on certain requests for a credit report, and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance.

How Does Accepting Affect You

This service, provided by Trusted ID, carries stipulations that many people aren’t aware of. For one, it will charge some people a fee for the service. Some don’t realize that it automatically charges their accounts on the anniversary of the sign-up date. The larger issue, however, lies in the fact that signing up could limit the options to seek restitution in the courts. You have to consider the value of what you might gain from litigation. By signing, you agree that an arbitration process will handle all claims against the company.

What Other Options Do You Have

First, you can choose not to sign. This allows you to sue the company for negligence, likely in concert with others, to seek restitution for losses. This may sound appealing, but could prove difficult to win in court. Second, you can get similar coverage to the coverage Equifax is offering elsewhere. Many different sites offer similar monitoring and identity theft guards; just be sure you read the fine print. Others offer credit alerts in the event of suspicious charges to your credit card. You can contact your bank, as well, to see what protection they offer.

Don’t just think about your credit and banks. Be sure to explore other kinds of protection, including services offered by LifeLock or Identity Guard. These services monitor your credit, but they go further, searching in the deep, dark places on the internet where someone may be trading your information. They also guard your investments and bank accounts. Many of these services offer free trial periods so you can see if they provide the services you need.

Your data is yours, so protect it. These steps do take some time and effort on your part, but this is your data you’re identity at risk. Dealing with the issues that come up after another party steals your identity can be expensive. Taking the time to put protections in place gives you added peace of mind in the event something does happen.

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