Earlier this month, Equifax agreed to pay about a $700 million settlement because of a September 2017 data breach that impacted 147 million Americans.
More than half of that settlement — at least $380 million — has been set aside for a Consumer Restitution Fund. And of that amount, $31 million is for one of two options when submitting a claim in the data breach settlement: taking a cash payment of up to $125 if you can certify that you have credit monitoring and will have it for at least the next six months. The second option is free credit monitoring for up to 10 years.
The Federal Trade Commission is now advising those affected by the data breach to think about taking free credit monitoring because the cash payout — for those that certify they already have credit monitoring — won’t be close to $125.
“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,” the FTC stated Wednesday. “Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.
“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. 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.”
For those that have already submitted claims for the cash payment, the FTC says that people will receive an email from a settlement administrator where they can can either stick with the payment or change to the free credit monitoring.