It seems the Federal Trade Commission was a little too efficient at getting the word out about how consumers could claim up to $125 if they were affected by the 2017 Equifax data breach.
The government agency announced Thursday that because too many people have filed claims, the chances of actually receiving as much as $125 have greatly decreased. The FTC is now advising people to opt for 10 years of free credit monitoring instead.
“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,” Robert Schoshinski, an assistant director for the FTC’s Privacy and Identity Protection Division, wrote in a statement. “Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”
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Last week, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed that the 147 million people affected by the Equifax data breach could benefit from its $700 million settlement with the U.S. government and states.
The 2017 data breach was one of the largest ever to threaten private information. Customers’ Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases passport data were among the compromised information.
Customers who confirm they were impacted by the data breach, can file a claim through which they can receive a payout of up to $125 or to 10 years of credit monitoring.
Schoshinski said that the free credit monitoring option is worth a lot more because the service can cost hundreds of dollars per year, but by filing a claim, you could get it for free.
All three nationwide credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- will monitor your credit report for at least four years, according ot the FTC's updated Frequently Asked Questions section. Consumers who choose this option can also get an additional six years of free credit monitoring from Equifax.
If you were a minor in May 2017, you're eligible for 18 years of free credit monitoring.
The offer also comes with $1 million in identity theft insurance, Schoshinski added.
If you already filed a claim for the cash payout, there’s no need to worry. Schoshinski said those who have filed a claim will be receiving an email from the settlement administrator to confirm what credit monitoring service they already have. You can also use the email as an opportunity to switch to the free credit monitoring option instead of getting a cash payout.
You can also email the settlement administrator, JND, directly at info@EquifaxBreachSettlement, Schoshinski said.