The Federal Trade Commission said today there’s been “overwhelming” interest in a settlement agreement with Equifax, and that consumers looking for a previously announced payout of up to $125 may be disappointed.
The agency said this month that it had reached a $700 million agreement with the credit reporting agency over a massive breach of private data in 2017. As part of the settlement, consumers whose data was compromised could request up to $125 or free credit monitoring services. The potential for a quick payout generated major interest, but only $31 million of the settlement was set aside for cash payouts, meaning each payout could be far smaller than $125, depending on how many people request one.
In a blog post today, the FTC tempered expectations. “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 agency said. “Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”
The Equifax breach exposed the personal information of 147 million people, giving many consumers a chance at some cash. But as the FTC points out, “all 147 million people” can make a claim on that $31 million, and many apparently have. The agency says “millions” have already filed a claim online.
The agency is encouraging consumers to consider taking the free credit monitoring option instead. “You can still choose the cash option on the claim form,” the agency writes in an FAQ on the settlement, “but you will be disappointed with the amount you receive and you won’t get the free credit monitoring.”