Skip to main content

Looking forward to that $125 Equifax settlement? FTC says it will be much less

People affected by the 2017 Equifax data breach who chose to receive the $125 cash option from a settlement may be disappointed with their decision — they’re likely to get far less than $125 when all is said and done, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

In a Wednesday blog post regarding the Equifax data breach settlement, the FTC urged the 147 million people affected by the breach to choose free credit monitoring over a cash settlement that could be as high as $125, but is likely going to be less due to the massive interest.

“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,” the FTC wrote in its updated guidance for filing a claim.

According to the FTC, since an “overwhelming” amount of people have filed a claim on the Equifax claim site, those who opted for the cash payout will get much less than the originally-promised $125. Only $31 million of the settlement was set aside for cash payouts — and that pot will be divided up

“If the settlement administrator receives valid claims for more than $31 million, then everyone with a valid claim for time spent will get an equal percentage of the amount they claimed,” the FTC wrote. 

The FTC is urging people to choose the free credit monitoring services instead. People who choose this option are guaranteed a minimum of four years of free credit monitoring services through Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Along with the free monitoring, those who choose this option also get identity theft insurance.

“So, if you haven’t submitted your claim yet, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead,” wrote FTC assistant director Robert Schoshinski. “Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year. And 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.”

Equifax opened up its claim website on July 25 after Equifax agreed to a $575-$700 million settlement with the FTC a few days later. 

Customers who were affected by the data breach have until January 22, 2020 to file a claim. If you already chose the $125 option but want to get free credit monitoring instead, the FTC said that you could email to make a change to your claim. 

Even if you don’t file a claim, people impacted by the breach will still get free identity restoration services, as well as six free credit reports per year for seven years. These benefits begin in 2020. 

Digital Trends reached out to Equifax to see precisely how many people have so far filed a claim through the claim website but have not yet received a response. 

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
Privacy group sues FTC, says $5 billion Facebook fine is chump change
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Earlier this week Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over privacy violations to the tune of $5 billion, the largest fine in the history of the FTC. While certainly huge, one privacy group thinks that the $5 billion fine isn’t quite enough.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, known as EPIC, filed a lawsuit against the FTC regarding the settlement on Friday, saying that it is "insufficient to address the concerns originally identified by EPIC and the consumer coalition, as well as those findings established by the Commission.”
The group wants the FTC to “require Facebook to restore the privacy settings users had in 2009; give users access to all of the data that Facebook keeps about them; stop making facial recognition profiles without users' consent; make the results of the government privacy audits public; and stop secretly tracking users across the web.”
It also wants the amount of the fine to be increased. While $5 billion is a large amount, it is a small penalty for the $571 billion company.
“The proposed order wipes Facebook’s slate clean without Facebook even having to admit guilt for its privacy violations,” reads the group’s complaint to the FTC.
“EPIC supports the findings in the FTC Complaint and supports, in part, the directives contained in the Consent Order. The Order makes clear that companies should not engage in unfair and deceptive trade practices, particularly in the collection and use of personal data. However, the proposed Order is insufficient to address the concerns originally identified by EPIC and the consumer coalition, as well as those findings established by the Commission.”
Many other critics also felt the settlement didn't go far enough. The two Democrats on the commission voted against it -- with and one commission, Rohit Chopra, criticized it for not holding senior executives like CEO Mark Zuckerberg or COO Sheryl Sandberg personally accountable for the violations.
In addition to the $5 billion fine, the FTC is requiring Facebook to submit to new restrictions as well as a modified corporate structure that will hold the company accountable for decisions it makes about its user’s privacy.
While it certainly could have been higher, the $5 billion fine is almost 20 times higher than the largest privacy or data security penalty ever imposed worldwide, says the FTC and is one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the U.S. government for any violation.

Read more
How to file a claim for $125 if you were hit by the 2017 Equifax data breach
equifax security breach

If your Social Security number was exposed in the 2017 Equifax data breach, you can finally file a claim for $125 -- or potentially more -- in compensation.

The consumer credit reporting agency agreed on a $575-$700 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday. The 2017 data breach impacted the personal information of approximately 147 million people, including Social Security numbers and other private data. 

Read more
Facebook to pay a historic $5 billion penalty in final settlement with FTC
facebook in court

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has officially penalized Facebook a groundbreaking $5 billion over privacy violations, the largest fine in FTC history. 

According to a Wednesday press release from the FTC, the social network giant will also have to submit to new restrictions, as well as a modified corporate structure that will hold the company accountable for decisions made about users’ privacy. 

Read more