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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. 

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