You must have heard by now about the huge data breach at Equifax that affected almost all adults in the country. They settled for close to $700 million, which seems like a lot, but actually isn’t. Everyone was supposed to get at least $125 and possibly up to $20,000. But that was if not enough people filed claims.
Nowhere Near $125
The settlement has received a lot of press and everyone is talking about it. That means that millions are filing claims and seeking cash payments. The Federal Trade Commission warned on Wednesday that there may not be enough claims money for everyone to receive a $125 check. They are trying to persuade Americans to pick a different option, Equifax’s offer of free credit monitoring instead.
The fund dedicated to the cash payouts is only $31 million. That means the more people who file claims for a check, the less likely it is that they’ll receive the full $125 payment. The response has been so overwhelming that the agency warned recipients will get “nowhere near $125.”
If the overall fund has not been exhausted by the end of 4.5 years, some of that money will go toward expanding the $31 million fund for future claims. Equifax also agreed to contribute an additional $125 million if the overall fund ran low. But the FTC seems to suggest that Equifax is not under the same obligation if only the $31 million fund specifically for the cash payouts up to $125 runs dry.
Free Credit Monitoring
So what it the other option exactly? Consumers can get four years of free credit monitoring and identity protection from Equifax and its two fellow major credit bureaus, Experian and TransUnion. After those four years, Equifax is offering an extra six years of credit monitoring. But you can get this option and also cash payment if you had to pay out-of-pocket expenses due to the breach. That money comes from a separate fund.
So the FTC says that, if you haven’t submitted your claim yet, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead. The free credit monitoring is worth a lot more, the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year.
Can You Switch to Free Credit Monitoring?
For those who have already submitted claims for this cash payment, look for 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. You can also email the settlement administrator, JND, at info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.