Stimulus package approved by House of Representatives

The United States House of Representatives just passed the CARES act which is the largest stimulus package ever passed through the United States government.

This is the $2 trillion package that is going to provide unprecedented relief to a lot of individuals and businesses in the country.

Certain industries like the airlines will benefit from nearly $60 billion in aid while many Americans will be able to receive checks depending on their income and filing status as well as how many dependents they support.

I’ll write more details about how to qualify for these things in the future but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expects checks to be sent out in two or three weeks though it could take a little longer if things don’t go smoothly. You won’t have to wait as long as others if you’ve provided direct-deposit bank account information to the IRS.

Update: Read here how to get your check quicker

Small businesses and the unemployed will also be able to receive funds to help them get through these tough times. And thankfully, health care facilities/providers will receive a lot of aid.

There was some last-minute drama with this bill as one representative was trying to require other representatives to vote in person. Luckily, his antics did not cause a hiccup in the process and voting was done in a way that common sense would dictate, given that other representatives have already tested positive.

The next step for the bill is for the President to sign it into effect and then we will start to see things get put into motion in the coming weeks. I’ll have more details to follow especially as they pertain to receiving checks and benefits to the travel industry.


Student loan payments getting suspended for six months

As many of you are aware, Congress is currently finalizing a package of aid worth $2 trillion that will be aimed at helping the economy recover.

We’ve already heard some specific details about the aid going to the airlines and airports. They will be getting close to $60 billion and that it will come with certain conditions like limiting bonuses to executives and preventing certain types of use of the funds like stock buybacks.

But there is another provision in there that would benefit a lot of people: students.

Federal student loan borrowers will likely get six months of reprieve from their loans. During this time, they will not have to make student loan payments and they will also get interest suspended for six months.

I’m still waiting to get the full details on any other student related benefits but I thought it was worth passing it along because this could amount to substantial savings for a lot of people.


Chase shutting down 20% of their branches temporarily

Based on a memo that was sent out to employees, Chase is closing 20% of their branches around the country due to ongoing threats of spreading the coronavirus. Chase is closing down these branches temporarily in order to protect both its employees and its customers that often come into close contact.

Other branches that are remaining open are now only open on reduced hours. Also, some other branches will only serve customers at windows where they are protected by screens or glass. (If your local Chase branch has drive-through windows then you may be able to still use those.)

Luckily, for Chase employees they are still getting paid even if their branch is closed and they are not able to go into work.

Also, many Chase employees will be working from home such as home-lending advisers, financial advisers and small-business bankers.

Other banks like Capital One, PNC, and Fifth Third also are closing down some branches and we are probably going to continue to see other banks shut down the branches temporarily over the next few days. It’s also worth noting that many banks are requiring you to schedule an appointment in order to come into the bank. 

You should be able to still use ATMs so if you need to withdraw from your Chase account or any other bank or even make deposits, those should still be possible. 

If you have any pressing banking needs, I would try to get those figured out sooner rather than later because branches near you might be closed down in the near future and it could be considerably difficult to get anything accomplished for a while.


Equifax Settlement Update (August 2019)

Last week, I wrote about the Equifax settlement that allowed eligible folks to make a claim for $125 in cash (or more). Well, it turns out that the Equifax settlement has been handled about as well as Equifax handled our data and that reward for $125 in cash isn’t going to happen. 

Equifax settlement update 

The FTC just released the latest update on the Equifax settlement and it turns out that way more people filed claims than they expected. Here’s what the (odd) FTC update states: 

The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming. Millions of people have visited this site in just the first week. Because the total amount available for these alternative payments is $31 million, each person who takes the money option is going to get a very small amount. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.

So we know the total cap for these payments is $31,000,000 and that 147 million people were affected. So if everyone affected made a claim, that would amount to 21 cents per person. But let’s just say 10,000,000 filed a claim (only 6.8% of the people affected). That would still only be $3.10 in damages awarded per person.

Therefore, since “[m]illions of people have visited this site in just the first week,” I would not be surprised to see awards given for ~$5 or less. 

Because of this, the FTC is trying to sell this option encouraging people to sign up for the free credit monitoring system instead. 

The free credit monitoring provides a much better value, and everyone whose information was exposed can take advantage of it. If your information was exposed in the data breach, and you file a valid claim before the deadline, you are guaranteed at least four years of free monitoring at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance, among other benefits. The market value of this product is hundreds of dollars per year.

You can still choose the cash option on the claim form, but you will be disappointed with the amount you receive and you won’t get the free credit monitoring.

Credit monitoring is nice but it’s easy to get free credit monitoring with companies like Credit Karma so I’m not sure how much value I’d put in this (although they offer it for all three credit bureaus and provide $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance which might be something to look into). 

Even though it feels weird to see the FTC essentially marketing this option, this will probably be the better option for many people given the extremely low cash pay out, but I’m curious about the specifics involved with things like the identity theft insurance and “other benefits.” 

Your options 

So you basically have four choices if you have already filed a claim.

Do nothing

You can just accept the fact that you’ll receive a check in the mail for a negligible amount of money likely sometime in 2020. 

Wait to do something

This is what I’m doing. I’m waiting until I hear more specifics on the pay out, credit monitoring/insurance and other benefits before making a decision. If you go this route you may want to sign up to get email updates about the settlement.

Change your election

You can change your election to the free credit monitoring when you’re contacted via email by a settlement admin (whenever that might be). You also can send an email to [email protected] to make a change to your claim.

Opt out?

Your final choice would be to try to opt out. I’m not sure if you can opt out after filing a claim but given the material change in damages you agreed to, I believe they should allow you to do opt back out. Here’s some info on how that might be done. 

If you are a member of the settlement class but do not want to remain in the class, you may exclude yourself from the class (also known as “opting out”). If you exclude yourself, you will lose any right to participate in the settlement, including any right to receive the benefits outlined in the Notice.

You will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement unless you submit a timely and signed written request to be excluded from the settlement. To exclude yourself from the settlement you must mail a “request for exclusion,” postmarked no later than 11/19/2019, to:

Equifax Data Breach Class Action Settlement Administrator
Attn: Exclusion
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91318
Seattle, WA 98111-9418

This statement must contain the following information:

  1. The name of this proceeding (In re: Equifax Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, Case No. 1:17-md-2800-TWT, or similar identifying words such as “Equifax Data Breach Lawsuit”);
  2. Your full name;
  3. Your current address;
  4. The words “Request for Exclusion” at the top of the document or a statement that you do not wish to participate in the settlement; and
  5. Your signature.

Read more about how to opt out here. 

Final word 

This outcome is not surprising but it is annoying to see a claim filing process handled so poorly from the jump. I personally am going to wait to hear a little bit more information/specifics before making my decision. But if you think you might want to pursue an actual legal claim in the future, you should consider consulting with an attorney and perhaps opting out (if that’s even possible at this stage). 

Claim Your Equifax Data Breach Lawsuit Compensation ($125+)!

The Equifax data-breach lawsuit has settled and there is a high chance that you are eligible for at least $125 in compensation. Filing a claim is quick and easy so keep reading below if you’re interested in claiming what you might be entitled to. 

“We at Equifax clearly understood that the collection of American consumer information and data carries with it enormous responsibility to protect that data. We did not live up to that responsibility.” — Richard F. Smith, Equifax’s former Chief Executive Officer October 3, 2017

The Equifax lawsuit

In September 2017, after months of being shady and covering it up, Equifax announced that it had been the victim of a criminal cyberattack and that the attackers gained unauthorized access to the personal information of 147 million U.S. consumers. This is almost 50% of the country so you have pretty good odds that you were affected by this breach. 

This information stolen included:

  • People’s names
  • Social Security numbers
  • Birth dates
  • Addresses
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • And other personal information.

As a result of the breach, a lawsuit was brought In re: Equifax Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, Case No. 1:17-md-2800-TWT. If you’re interested in seeing the (99-count) legal complaint, you can find it here. If you have questions you can call the Settlement Administrator toll-free at 1-833-759-2982.

Are you eligible for the Equifax lawsuit?

When using the link above, if you have gone by more than one last name (for example, a maiden name and a married name), make sure that you check all of your last names.

Filing a claim 

It will not take long at all to complete the form. The first page is basic contact info and then you’ll be able to select your damages. 


On the damages page, you’ll have the option to choose from the following: 

You can receive free, three-bureau credit monitoring at all three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Experian will provide this service for at least 4 years. You can also enroll in free, single-bureau credit monitoring of your Equifax credit file, provided by Equifax, for up to 6 years after the Experian service ends.

Or, if you have credit monitoring services that you will keep for at least 6 months, you can request a cash payment of $125. Most people on UponArriving probably already have credit monitoring set up so they’ll be able to request the $125 option. (If you select this option, you cannot also enroll in the free, three-bureau credit monitoring service offered through this Settlement.)

Additional damages 

If you spent time trying to recover from fraud or identity theft caused by the data breach, or if you spent time trying to avoid fraud or identity theft because of the data breach (for example, placing or removing credit freezes on your credit files or purchasing credit monitoring services), you can be compensated $25 per hour for up to 20 hours.

  • If you claim 10 hours or less, you must describe the actions you took in response to the data breach and the time each action took.
  • If you claim more than 10 hours total, you must describe the actions you took in response to the data breach and include supporting documents showing fraud, identity theft, or other misuse of your personal information.

If you spent time trying to protect yourself, this is an easy way to tack on extra damages without having to supply any real proof (but don’t get greedy and just be honest). You will need to provide the approximate month and year and explain the time spent in response to the data breach but that’s it if you’re claiming 10 hours or less (many are claiming around 2 to 3 hours which seems very reasonable). 

If you lost or spent money trying to prevent or recover from fraud or identity theft caused by the Equifax data breach and have not been reimbursed for that money, you can receive reimbursement for up to $20,000 total. It is important for you to send documents that show what happened and how much you lost or spent, so that you can be repaid. For more on this option, visit the FAQs. 

Choose your payment 

If you made a claim for a cash payment in this claim form, you can elect to receive your payment either by check or pre-paid card to your mailing address. Be sure to finalize your claim and that you get a claim number for your claim. 

Note: 12/19/2019 is the date of the Court’s final approval hearing, when it will determine whether to approve the settlement.  No settlement benefits will be distributed or available until after the Court finally approves the settlement.

Final word

It won’t take you very long at all to fill out your form and I think anyone affected should file a claim because things are starting to get very old when it comes to data breaches and I think it helps to send a louder message when more people get involved in lawsuits like this.  

New Apple Person-to-Person Payment System Announced

At the Worldwide Developer Conference 2017 (WWDC17) Apple announced it’s going to release a new person-to-person payment system with iOS 11 this fall. The new payment system will allow you to send payments through the iMessage app.

This is not to be confused with Apple Pay. Apple Pay allows you load a number of credit cards into your phone so that you can process transactions wirelessly at different retailers. This mobile wallet system has been popular for those with cards like the US Bank Altitude Reserve who can earn 3X by utilizing mobile payments.

This person-to-person payment system will function closer to how PayPal, Venmo, and others work, however. The difference is that it’s going to be even more convenient (for Apple users) to use since you can send payments through iMessage. Not having to involve a third party app will speed up the process and make things like splitting bills that much easier for iPhone users.

How it works

It looks like it will work very simply. You’ll first choose a specific amount of money via a new button and then choose whether to send that amount or request that amount of money from someone else. If you’re making a payment, you’ll need to first have a card synced to Apple Pay.

It also looks like you might just be able to text someone that they owe you $20 and their keyboard will auto populate an Apple Pay button for them to proceed with payment.

The funds will be loaded to your Apple Pay Cash Card, which can then be transferred to your bank account, just like other services allow. I’m wondering if you’ll also be able to use funds for Apple Pay as well, but I haven’t heard anything confirming that.

Are there going to be fees?

We haven’t heard what the fees and caps to these services will be. It’s possible that for debit cards there won’t be any fees and that for credit cards we’ll see the standard fee rate of somewhere between 2% and 3%. Some have speculated that there may be no fees incurred, but I’m hesitant to be that optimistic.

Update: it looks like fees for credit cards will be set at 3%.

And then there are caps — nobody knows if there might be a monthly cap on transactions or perhaps a limit per transaction. I’m definitely expecting both fees and caps but we’ll see what Apple does.

This new payment system could present more effecient ways to obtain sign-up bonuses for many, so this is definitely a big plus for iPhone users and I’m excited to find out more details about the payment system. It might also present a new way to liquidate certain gift cards, which could be huge for many people. It’s worth noting that Green Dot is behind this new payment system and they don’t tend to have much tolerance for “creative” uses, so alternative uses of this might be limited.

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