You Might Not Be Able To Claim $125 From The Equifax Breach Settlement After All

Photographed by Megan Madden.
Update: The FTC just released a statement encouraging those affected by the Equifax data breach to seek free credit monitoring instead of the $125 cash payment, citing an "overwhelming" public response that the settlement is not equipped to support. The total amount of money allocated for these cash payments is $31 million, which means that if all 147 million people seek cash payments, there won't be enough funds to go around.
Those who have already filed a claim for cash payment will be emailed and asked to provide the name of the credit monitoring service they already use or will have the opportunity to choose the free credit monitoring option instead of seeking cash payment. If, however, you had to pay out of pocket for costs incurred as a result of the breach, the statement notes that there are still available funds for reimbursement.
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Earlier this week, Equifax agreed to pay at least $575 million and possibly up to $700 million as part of its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 U.S. states and territories. The Equifax data breach in 2017 affected approximately 147 million people — exposing names and dates of birth, Social Security numbers, physical addresses, and other sensitive information to hackers.
As part of the settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million for credit-monitoring services for consumers affected by the breach and to cover any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by consumers as a result (as much as $20,000 per person), and will add an additional $125 million if the $300 million is insufficient. And starting next year, Equifax will give all consumers six free credit reports every year for seven years, as well as free assisted identity-restoration services.
To determine whether you were impacted by the breach, you can enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number on the Equifax data-breach settlement website. Those who qualify are entitled to free credit reporting or $125 (if you already have credit monitoring), which you can claim on the site by entering your name and mailing info.
If, however, you spent time dealing with fraud or identity theft as a result of the breach, you can be compensated for up to 20 hours of this time at a rate of $25 per hour. If you sustained out-of-pocket monetary losses, you can file a claim for these as well. And if you paid for Equifax credit- or identity-monitoring products in the year before the breach, you can be reimbursed for 25% of the cost. (In total, you can claim up to $20,000 in cash payments altogether.)
If you're planning to file a claim, you have until January 22, 2020, to do so, but if you wish to comment on or object to the settlement, you have until November 19 of this year.
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