[BreachExchange] Equifax Settlement Money Going Fast After Data Breach: Officials

Destry Winant destry at riskbasedsecurity.com
Fri Aug 2 10:11:14 EDT 2019


ATLANTA — After Equifax offered victims of its data breach the option
of up to $125 in cash or free credit-monitoring as part of a
settlement, the company experienced what authorities called an
"overwhelming response." Millions visited the data breach settlement
site online to file claims in the week since the page went live, the
Federal Trade Commission reported.

More than 147 million were impacted by the Equifax data breach,
officials said. A multi-state investigation into what is one of the
largest breaches ever of consumer data showed that the sensitive
information of an estimated 56 percent of adults was compromised after
the company failed to patch a vulnerability in its security monitoring

As the breach went undetected for more than two months in 2017, Social
Security numbers, names, dates of birth, addresses, credit card
numbers and in some cases, driver's license numbers, were left

Equifax agreed to pay a total of $425 million to individuals and $175
million to states impacted by the breach, in the settlement that was
announced July 22.

Within the $425 million to individuals, federal officials say there is
a $31 million cap on how much the Atlanta-based company can pay out to
those seeking reimbursement for credit monitoring.

"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, nowhere near the $125 they could
have gotten if there hadn't been such an enormous number of claims
filed," according to the FTC.

According to the settlement, the $31 million will be divided equally
among those who are eligible, so as more people ask for the payout,
the amount will decrease for each person.

Theoretically, if 147 million people affected asked for the $125
payout and qualified, they would each receive $0.21.

"So, if you haven't submitted your claim yet, think about opting for
the free credit monitoring instead," the FTC advised. "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."

A separate pot of money is available for those who have paid
out-of-pocket for services like hiring someone to help with identity
theft or credit freezes, according to the FTC, which advised those
people to use documents to submit their claims.

"There is still money available under the settlement to reimburse
people for what they paid out of their pocket to recover from the
breach,"the FTC said.

Benefits will not be distributed until at the earliest Jan. 23, 2020,
a date set by the court.

What To Do If You Submitted A Claim Already

Those who want to change their preferred benefit to credit monitoring
as opposed to the cash payment option can email the settlement
administrator at info at EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

People who have submitted claims already for the $125 payment will
receive an email from the settlement administrator asking for the name
of the credit monitoring service they are using. They should also
anticipate not receiving the full $125 amount.

"Because of high interest in the alternative cash payment under the
settlement, consumers who choose this option might end up getting far
less than $125," the FTC advised.

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