Have you already signed up for your $125 check from Equifax over the massive 2017 data breach? The Federal Trade Commission has a warning: Pick free credit monitoring instead.
The FTC issued a statement Wednesday warning that the settlement set aside only $31 million in funds to pay out the $125 payments to affected consumers who choose cash instead of free credit monitoring.
“The pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million,” the FTC said. “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 commission says the credit monitoring is paid for by a different, larger fund, which will cover all 147 million people affected.
“Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more — the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year,” it said. “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.”
If you’ve already filed your claim for the $125 option at equifaxbreachsettlement.com, you will receive an email asking you to confirm that you already have credit monitoring, and you can switch to the free monitoring settlement at that time.
Insistent on getting cash? If you stick with the cash settlement options, you and all of the other claimants will end up splitting the $31 million — which could result in minuscule payments for everyone.
If you incurred expenses due to identity fraud and filed to be reimbursed for those, that is not affected and the FTC says all of those claims will be covered.
“Please also note that there is still money available under the settlement to reimburse people for what they paid out of their pocket to recover from the breach,” it said. “Say you had to pay for your own credit freezes after the breach, or you hired someone to help you 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.”
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