The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that Equifax data breach victims who already have credit monitoring and opted to get a $125 cash payment might not get it in full and should choose the free credit monitoring option instead.
Equifax disclosed the data breach which exposed the sensitive information of roughly 147 million people during September 2017. Under the settlement agreed upon with the FTX on July 22, Equifax said that it will spend up to $425 million to help the breach victims.
As part of the settlement, Equifax offered the victims the option to choose between 10 years of free credit monitoring (4 years with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and 6 more only with Equifax) or a $125 cash payment.
The consumer credit reporting agency also agreed to reimburse the victims for their time and cash payments up to $20,000, as well as provide them with at least 7 years of free identity restoration services.
FTC urges victims to pick free credit monitoring
“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,” the FTC says on the Equifax breach claim page.
“Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed,” says FTC Assistant Director Robert Schoshinski at the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection in a press release published today.
The 147 million people who were impacted by the Equifax breach are also advised by the FTC to think about choosing the free credit monitoring over the money if they haven’t yet submitted a claim.
This option would provide them with a lot more value over time given that “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.”
Some of the affected people still going to get paid
On the other hand, Equifax victims are assured by the FTC that people who have paid for the data breach recovery process out of their own pockets will still be paid since the settlement pot for this specific situation.
“Say you had to pay for your own credit freezes after the breach, or you hired someone to help you deal with identity theft,” Schoshinski adds. “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.”
“So, if you haven’t submitted your claim yet, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead. Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year,” concludes FTC’s Assistant Director.
The affected people who already submitted claims and want to switch from the $125 cash payment to the free credit monitoring can do so in the email reply sent to the settlement administrator.
Individuals who haven’t yet received an email can get in touch with the settlement administrator, JND, by reaching out to its email contact at [email protected]