You’re Entitled to $125 or More in the Equifax Breach Settlement

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2019/07/26/youre-entitled-to-125-or-more-in-the-equifax-breach-settlement/

Equifax has reached a deal to pay up to $425 million to Americans in order to compensate them for the credit bureau’s massive data breach. But a large percentage of the fine will be paid only if its claimed by people whose data was exposed in the breach—learn how to get your share of the settlement.

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Sadly, the picture is far worse than you outline at the end of your post; according to the FAQ, there’s only $31 million allocated to the cash payments in lieu of credit monitoring. At $125 each, that only covers 248,000 people; if more request payment, the payment will be split proportionally. If all 147 million people signed up, we’d all get 21 cents each. (There’s additional breakouts listed in the FAQ outlining how the rest of the consumer-oriented money is going.)

Thanks! It’s annoying that wasn’t mentioned in the FTC information. I’ll update the article.

If there are more than $31 million in claims for Time Spent during the Initial Claims Period (see FAQ 12), all payments for Time Spent will be reduced and distributed on a proportional basis. Certain claims for Time Spent may also be made during the Extended Claims Period, up to a total cap of Time Spent during the Initial and Extended Claims Periods of $38 million in claims.

https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/faq#q-11

I have actually gotten a check for a penny, from a class action lawsuit.

Diane

Beat you there! My bank gave me less than 50¢ for a settlement, then I was assessed $1.50 for legal fees. A class action suit I didn’t ask to be a member of lost me almost $1.00.

Later, the judge did modify the amount the attorneys were paid, so at least the class members didn’t owe money.

I think the only worse settlement was a settlement on GMC trucks that were ruled to be dangerous and GM didn’t earn their customers or recall the vehicles. Class members got $500 off their next GMC truck.

That is why when I filled out the claims on the FTC website for my wife & myself, we went with the 10 years monitoring. At our ages, we may not have to worry after 10 years!

Oh, boy, oh, boy! Yes, I spent time dealing with Equifax and the other three credit reporting bureaus to freeze my credit reporting, I can… oh, wait, my freezes (with a couple of unfreezes and re-ups for brief periods) date from two years before the Equifax breach, when the US Official of Personnel Managerment shared my PII (and a lot more) with… someone. Guess I can’t ask for the $25 an hour after all.

I’ve been mulling over what would have been better penalties for Equifax:

  1. Be required to pay off all credit cards balances for those impacted by the breach.
  2. Pay each person impacted $500, along with free credit monitoring for 25 years, and increase each person’s credit score 50 points.
  3. Heavy fines and prison time for Equifax BoD, CEO, CIO, Security Division head(s)
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The $31 million is for Time Spent and Out of Pocket losses, not the $125 in lieu of credit monitoring. The $125 payments come out of the bigger pot of $385 million. Still, that would only cover a small fraction of the 147 million people affected by the breach.

Sadly, that’s not accurate - question 10 of the FAQ specifically states that the $125 as an alternative to credit monitoring has a $31 million pool:

If you already have some other kind of credit monitoring or protection services, and do not claim the free Credit Monitoring Services available through the settlement, you may file a claim for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation for up to $125.

If there are more than $31 million claims for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation, all payments for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation will be lowered and distributed on a proportional basis.

Chances are excellent most folks here who qualify and apply will get no money whatsoever:

“I would caution folks it’s not $125 free money,” said Charity Lacey, vice president of communications at the Identity Theft Resource Center. “You have to prove you have credit monitoring in place and it will be active for the next 6 months.”

From Josh’s original article:

Credit Karma already offers this service for free, so you should take the cash.

Ah, you’re right. I didn’t see that there are the two $31-million pools.

Yup. Interestingly, I think this does have the likely effect that people that opt into Time Spent money are going to get closer to what the site states they’re owed - but how close it’ll actually wind up being, I have no idea :slight_smile:

I figure that it’s worth going for the cash because the mere existence of Credit Karma shows that the value of credit monitoring is basically $0. I’ll be fascinated to see how much people really get next year when it’s all paid out, but it feels like Equifax isn’t paying very much in the end, at least per person affected.

USA Today: “Equifax data breach settlement: Why you won’t get $125”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/07/31/equifax-data-breach-settlement-scammers-site-glitches-you-wont-get-125/39867105/

The FTC is now telling Equifax’s victims to pick the free credit monitoring instead of the $125 because there isn’t enough money in the pool to pay the full $125 to all the claimants.

Frankly, I find this absolutely infuriating. There are 147 million victims and the FTC is letting Equifax get away with only paying $31 million—not even a dollar per person. It feels as though the FTC is acting as Equifax’s protector instead of its regulator.

Do what you think is best, but I still advise claiming as much money from Equifax as you can. It’s not about lining your own pockets but holding Equifax as accountable as possible for its negligence. The credit monitoring is worthless—it’s already provided for free by many institutions and it clearly doesn’t cost that much to implement on Equifax’s part given how little they’ve been allowed to set aside to fulfill it.

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So do they expect us to re-file if we’ve already filled out the online form?

Remember, too, that between the time they discovered the breach and then disclosed it, Equifax purchased a credit monitoring company, apparently anticipating that they could recover some of the expense of any likely settlement by paying themselves for the cost of any monitoring they were forced to provide to their victims:

It must have been a busy few weeks for the poor Equifax executives, who were also busy defrauding yet more of the public by dumping their stock before their disclosures.

–Ron

The FTC says you’ll be contacted and ask to prove that you have credit monitoring. Apparently, you can switch then. My guess, based on the tone of their blog post, is that the FTC will pressure victims to take the monitoring.