ATLANTA, Ga. (KNWA) — If you were impacted by the Equifax breach and looking forward to the $125 cash payout, it turns out you will likely get a much smaller amount of money.
The Federal Trade Commission and other entities recently reached a settlement with Equifax over a September 2017 data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people.
The Trade Commission put out a website link where people could go and find out if their information was exposed in the breach, and also learn how to file a claim for either $125 or free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. But an “overwhelming” and “unexpected” number of people filed for the monetary settlement.
“But the pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million,” the Trade Commission website states. “A large number of claims for cash instead of credit monitoring means only one thing: each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”
The Trade Commission website advises people who have not filed their claims yet to choose free credit monitoring instead of the $125 payout.
The webpage where you can file a claim with Equifax described Free Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft Protection Services as up to 10 years of free credit monitoring that includes the following: at least four years of free monitoring of your credit report at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance; and up to six more years of free monitoring of your Equifax credit report. If you were a minor in May 2017, you are eligible for a total of 18 years of free credit monitoring.
“Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year,” the website states. “And this monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than any you may have already, because it monitors your credit report at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies, and it comes with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services.”
Those who already submitted claims for cash payment will receive an email from the settlement administrator.
“They’ll be asking you for the name of the credit monitoring service you already have. Or, if you want to change your mind, you’ll have a chance to switch to the free credit monitoring. The email from the settlement administrator will tell you what to do next, in either case,” the website states.
Settlement money is still available to reimburse people for money spent out of pocket to recover from the breach, including paying for credit freezes or hiring someone to help deal with identity theft.
“The settlement has a larger pool of money for just those people. If you’re one of them, use your documents to submit your claim,” the website states.