FTC Says ‘Overwhelming’ Number of Equifax Claims Means Consumers Likely Won’t Get $125

Some 4.5 million people have visited the FTC’s website on the Equifax settlement.


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tami chappell/Reuters

For consumers affected by the 2017

Equifax


EFX -1.63%

Inc. data breach who were hoping to claim $125 as part of the settlement related to it, the Federal Trade Commission is now saying: Please don’t.

According to a blog post the FTC released Wednesday, the response to the settlement has been “overwhelming.” Some 4.5 million people visited the FTC’s settlement website in the week since the settlement was announced, according to the FTC.

The response has been such that the FTC now cautions that consumers choosing the cash option may not get the $125 initially promised.

“There’s a downside to this unexpected number of claims,” Robert Schoshinski, the assistant director of the division of Privacy and Identity Protection, wrote in the blog post. “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.”

Last week, the FTC announced a settlement agreement of up to $700 million with Equifax over its 2017 data breach that compromised the personal information of 147 million Americans. The settlement includes at least $300 million, with potentially up to $425 million, available for consumers affected by the breach. This money is intended to provide consumers with free credit monitoring or, if they already have credit monitoring in place, $125 cash as compensation for their time and money lost during the hack.

Since only $31 million was allocated for these cash payments, spreading the amount among a large number of consumers would lower the amount of money those people who file claims could potentially receive.

The FTC is urging consumers who haven’t yet filed claims to consider opting for the free credit monitoring instead. Those who already filed claims opting for the cash payment will receive an email from the settlement administrator asking for more information, and the FTC has instructions for those who want to change their claim to get free credit monitoring instead of a cash payment.

“You can still choose the cash option on the claim form,” says the updated FAQ on the FTC website on the settlement. “But you will be disappointed with the amount you receive and you won’t get the free credit monitoring.”

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