Have you seen tweets and headlines saying you could be eligible to receive $125 as part of the Equifax settlement related to the 2017 data breach? As with all things, you must read the fine print. It’s very unlikely you will get $125, although you might get a check for 21 cents.
The Equifax settlement was reached with the Federal Trade Commission for the 2017 data breach in which more than 147 million Americans’ personal data was stolen by hackers. The stolen data includes Social Security Numbers, credit card information, driver’s license numbers and other key personal details.
When I initially saw the claim that half of Americans could be eligible to receive $125, I was immediately skeptical, and I was right to be. Upon filing a claim on the Equifax settlement page, I saw that it offers two options: cash or free credit monitoring. You can also access the settlement page via the FTC’s official site, and there’s more information about the settlement here.
The reality about the settlement is quite complicated and is based on how much you were impacted by the data breach. If you are one of the unlucky ones whose identity was stolen in the data breach, then you have quite a bit of work ahead of you. If you were a victim of identity theft as a result of the data breach, then Equifax is offering free identity restoration services as a third option.
Under the terms of the Equifax settlement, the company agreed to pay up to $700 million to settle claims related to the September 2017 data breach. However, only $425 million of the total settlement amount will be paid out to those whose information was stolen. Of that $425 million, just $31 million has been earmarked for those alleged $125 cash payments. If all 147 million of those whose information was stolen selects cash, then the payout will be a mere 21 cents each, The Verge notes.
The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 22, 2020, and no payments or benefits will be sent until at least Jan. 23, 2020. The timeline for sending out payments depends on when the court allows them to be sent out, so it could be much later than that. You can sign up with the FTC to receive email updates about the Equifax settlement. Signing up for emails will help you stay up to date on where your 21-cent check is in case you can’t wait to spend it. You may be better off taking the 10 years of free credit monitoring.