The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is urging consumers affected by Equifax’s 2017 data breach to consider signing up for the free credit monitoring offered as part of the settlement. A new FTC blog post notes that because of high interest in the alternative cash payment under the settlement, consumers who choose this option might end up getting far less than $125.
The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming, and we’re delighted that millions of people have visited ftc.gov/Equifax and gone on to the settlement website’s claims form. But there’s a downside to this unexpected number of claims. First, though, the good: all 147 million people can ask for and get free credit monitoring. There’s also the option for people who certify that they already have credit monitoring to claim up to $125 instead. But the pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million. 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 settlement with Equifax announced on July 22 included at least $300 million and potentially up to $425 million to help consumers recover from the breach. Among the benefits available to consumers affected by the breach is free credit monitoring services or, alternatively, a cash payment if they already have credit monitoring.
For those who have not submitted a claim, the FTC is recommending that affected consumers consider choosing the free credit monitoring service, which is worth hundreds of dollars and comes with identity theft insurance and restoration services. For anyone who has already chosen the cash option, the settlement administrator will e-mail those consumers and provide them with the opportunity to either (1) submit additional information, or (2) switch to the free credit monitoring service. Consumers can also contact the settlement administrator directly.