No, You’re Not Getting $125 For Equifax Breach

Filed Under: Misc.

In September 2017 Equifax had a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of about 147 million Americans, and last week a settlement was finally reached with the Federal Trade Commission.

If you’re one of the people who was impacted by this (nearly half of Americans were) you’re entitled to either free credit monitoring or some cash as part of the settlement.

What’s really odd is that the FTC said that the choice was either 10 years of free credit monitoring or $125. As I covered in the post, that didn’t really make much sense.

Usually in settlements like this there’s some amount of money distributed among those who were impacted, but given that we’re talking about a finite sum of money, I couldn’t figure out how they arrived at the amount of $125. Presumably the payout would be based on how many people take part in requesting compensation.

There was a lot of interest in this. Heck, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even Tweeted telling people to get their check from Equifax.

Well, the FTC has now clarified that you’re not getting anywhere close to $125 if you were involved in the Equifax data breach.

The FTC has provided an update regarding this, as follows:

5. I thought I could choose $125 instead of free credit monitoring. What happened?

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.

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.

So they have a total of $31 million to distribute, and that will likely be distributed across millions of people (if not tens of millions of people). So I imagine we can expect anywhere from a less than a dollar to a few dollars at most, and that’s it.

But I still can’t wrap my head around what they were thinking. The whole answer from the FTC seems like an odd tone for a government organization to take.

So if there’s $31 million to distribute and each person were to receive $125, that leaves under 250,000 people. Did they really think that just 0.16% of people would take part in this, especially with the promise of $125 to people impacted?

So what’s going to happen sounds in line with what I would have expected all along, though can anyone make sense of what they were thinking?

  1. Even though the math didn’t make sense (as you originally pointed out), their website was pretty clear. That was a huge screwup on the part of the settlement website to advertise $125 payouts. So if they are now advising that credit monitoring is a better value… is there a mechanism to cancel one’s original claim and ask for the credit monitoring?

    Also, what about the $25 per hour it promised for time spent on fixing one’s credit? I legitimately claimed 2 hours of time, as I do remember both pulling a credit report and changing some passwords last year as a result of this breach. Is that not being fulfilled either?

  2. I think a lot of us in this community saw this coming, but it’s going to be a real shock for the “average joe” who read about the settlement and was excited to get $125.

    What’s really shocking was the lack of communication from the FTC, which should really be on the side of consumers. It should have been clearly disclosed that the payout would be $31M split between however many people signed onto the settlement. $125 per person is a fantasy number and it was from the start.

    This just strikes me as completely dishonest, though I’m unsure if it was intentional or not.

  3. I put in for the cash and it accepted it. So does that mean i was affected by the breach? I know ive gotten my card # stolen a few times this last year but its tough to know if it was due to the breach. If it indeed was and i only get a few dollars, id be pretty pissed. I spent hours on the phone between at least 5 calls and a few visits to my bank to get it squared away and the charges removed.

  4. Ben can you take AOC’s seat please? There’s a lot people in her district as well as twitter followers that probably could really use that $125, and she most likely got their hopes up.

  5. @ Ben — Yeah, everyone should be sure to sign up for Equifax free credit monitoring. What an unbelievable joke. I am a Democrat, but AOC makes herself look really stupid with such tweets. I think I will opt out of the settlement and sue Equifax in small claims court for fun.

  6. $31m is such a tap on the wrists considering the size of the breach.

    Since I already have monitoring from a different breach I took the cash option.

    I don’t see how you can blame AOC or any of the million other people and media channels that advertized this. Blame the settlement website and the FTC

  7. The problem is that we have garbage regulators who take the side of corporations every time.

    The fine should have been $500m. At least.

  8. I think the political fallout will be huge when people realize that although the settlement was advertised with a face value of $700 million, only $31 million is actually going to victims of the breach. In reality, people will be getting barely enough for starbucks instead of the widely-touted $125.

  9. I’m curious who, if anyone at all, chose $125 over the credit monitoring. If you chose credit monitoring you still had the option to claim the additional up to 10 hours. Anyone who chose the flat $125 was foolish to do so when you could get free monitoring plus additional cash (assuming very few claimed it). And I’m amazed that more media outlets didn’t accurately describe the best path to take, I seem to recall that Leff’s blog recommended this method.

  10. This settlement doesn’t to my knowledge (and someone correct me if I am wrong) prevent someone with actual damages from the breach from suing at a later date. I suffered an identity theft that cost me thousands of dollars and years to correct and I successfully sued (not in small claims court) the credit agency involved.

    On the bright side, credit monitoring services were not around when I had my problem over a decade ago. Today, it’s harder for these bastards to fly under the radar after they get your information and act on it.

  11. Free monitoring is pretty worthless. For anyone to say it is worth more than $125 they are clueless. Not to mention with all of these “hacks” I’d imagine a large number of people already have the worthless free credit monitoring already.

  12. Bigger problem is Equifax is still in business and still has zero incentive to keep your data secure.

  13. Ben, my understanding is that after lawyers fees, there were three pools of money. The largest was for those who were directly affected and out of money because of the breach to be made whole. The second pool was for people who had to spend a lot of time dealing with the headache. Third and smallest pool was for people whose data was compromised.

    I agree, it was terribly publicized. Plus the people whose data is out there and gets used next year will have no recourse.

  14. @David S

    This just show (what most of us already know) how dumb AOC is. It’s like we got Dora exploring the House of Representatives. I think Dora and Boots are smarter than AOC.

    This is worse then when got Trump into office. At least Hillary or Trump are smart people.

    Can’t understand how NY voted.

  15. So at least we know what the value of ur credit data and privacy is. According to the settlement, around $2.

  16. That’s why on the first day of announcing this, I opted for the 10 year credit monitoring and a small compensation for the time and money it took me to freeze my accounts on all three credit bureaus.

  17. Far more worthwhile to put a freeze on your credit with each bureau and lift it when you need it than get credit monitoring for a finite period of time, after which they will rip you off until the end of time with worthless credit monitoring subscriptions.

  18. The issue isn’t the communication (although the communication is a problem and it’s not just the FTC that screwed that up). The real issue is that the fine should have been large enough to destroy the company.

    When your business is handling and judging sensitive data, a failure to protect that data should result in an existential event. Only when the continued existence of the shareholders’ investment is actually in doubt will appropriate safeguards be put in place.

  19. I won’t sign up for their service again for another 10 years and get my data stollen again. Taking $125 is better option.

  20. Hello, sorry if it’s not the direct subject, but it’s something like that. I was affected by Marriott hackers and stolen information, if I do not live in the United States nor am I resident there, how can I do to claim and achieve some compensation? Could you please guide me? Greetings and thank you very much

  21. The hack was really to remove new credit cards that have been added to your account. The hackers wanted to get under 5/24.

  22. Yup…kinda like Medicare For All…Student Loans paid off…all by the government. Purely pie-in-the-sky bullshit.

  23. Mallthus is right. Until these people get fines that really hurt, it is just a cost of doing business to them, and we’ll get lame apologies and credit monitoring from them.

  24. Lucky, I’m surprised you’re giving AOC (who is an idiot) publicity considering she wants to ban air travel.

    Might not be able to enjoy the high life you’ve been living, certainly the next generation won’t if she gets her hands on more power.

    Fiona from Nigeria

  25. LOL. Big government promises one thing (eg free comprehensive health care) and delivers something far far less. Take a hint, people.

  26. This is exactly what Trump and his administration are trying to do and it shows that they are successful at it. De-regulating all departments and hamstringing or dismantling the others like FTC and CPB. They knew $31mil would be chump change and slap on wrist for a equifax. Its all BS

  27. The only people who EVER receive any fair compensation in these situations is the attorneys. NEVER the people who were actually affected.

  28. If Equifax can use misleading language to get millions of people to choose the $125 option over the credit monitoring, that’s millions of people they can still market credit monitoring services to. They knew exactly what they were doing.

  29. Donna, that is exactly what you are doing. From the FAQs of the settlement webpage “If you make a claim under the settlement, or if you do nothing, you will be releasing all of your legal claims relating to the Data Breach against Equifax when the settlement becomes final. By releasing your legal claims, you are giving up the right to file, or to continue to pursue, separate legal claims against or seek further compensation from Equifax for any harm related to the Data Breach—whether or not you are currently aware of those claims.”

    I am going to opt out of the settlement. If some day down the road I have actual damages, I want to be able to sue for those damages. That being said, my data has been breached so many times, I think it would be hard to prove which breach the data came from.

  30. Couple of months ago, I applied for a car loan and it was declined because my credit score was in a low 500 with some negative items including (eviction, bankruptcy and a judgment), I was broken. I approached a colleague and narrated everything to him, he referred me to CODERED and told me to believe in him. Within 7 business days CODERED raised my credit score to 789 and erased all the negative items replacing them with beautiful tradelines. I am ever grateful to him for such a discreet service. Write him on CODEREDCREDITFIX at GMAIL dot COM and consider your job done.

  31. The government (hopefully democrats) needs to shut down and ban the 3 major credit bureaus and any other smaller credit bureaus. They are NOT needed. All they do is harass anyone trying to get a job, get a loan to get ahead, get a nicer vehicle, and to get a home. The reason why some people are homeless is because of these pathetic pieces of shit that own these 3 credit bureaus and the smaller ones as well. And also FICO (Mr. FAIR and Mr. ISAC) are equally to blame for homelessness, joblessness, and paycheck advance stores. You have to play by their FUCKING rules and in your adult life weather a 21 year old or a 90 year old your life should t have to live by 3 numbers (credit score)
    Mr Isac and Mr Fair for starting FICO should have never had the right to enjoy life on this earth or anywhere. And their families and anyone who works for FICO should not be able to enjoy life either. All of these inconsiderate pieces of worthless shit do not deserve to be revived or saved if any should go unconscious from a heart attac, seizure, stroke, or any other medical condition. FICO and the 3 Credit Bureaus have made my financial life hard and miserable and now these 2 types of businesses need to do as I have had to do—– SUFFER! How does that happen? In an emergency no one is saved from these 2 businesses.
    Does anyone want to get involved with me in getting FICO and the Credit Bureaus shut down for good? They harrass people and harassment is illegal.

  32. What was AOC thinking with her tweets? Oh that’s right she doesn’t think most the time. You can’t even opt in for the money in the first place unless you already have credit monitoring. I am curious what they will do about the people who claimed they put in time on this issue.

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