Bottom line: On Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission, which is handling the $700 million data-breach settlement with Equifax, said the response from those wanting the cash was so huge that claimants would likely receive "far less" than $125.
About a week ago we reported that you might be eligible to receive up to $125 from the class-action lawsuit that Equifax recently settled. The response for claims was so "overwhelming" that people who have applied are probably going to be quite disappointed.
As part of the $700 million settlement reached this month, affected parties would receive four years of free credit monitoring through Experian plus six additional years through Equifax. Those who already have such services could opt for a $125 cash payment.
"The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming," Assistant Director of Privacy and Identity Protection Robert Schoshinski wrote in the FTC blog. "But there's a downside to this unexpected number of claims."
"Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more 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."
Of the $700 million Equifax agreed to pay, most of it has been earmarked for those who suffered financially (in time or money) over the breach. Only $31 million was set aside for those whose information was caught up in the fiasco but did not bear any losses. Some 147 million people had their data leaked. If even a small fraction asks for cash compensation, they will not receive anywhere near $125. Doing the math shows that to have a full $125 payday, there can only be 248,000 claimants.
If you have already asked for cash from the settlement website, it is not too late to take the free credit monitoring instead. Soon the settlement administrator will be sending out emails asking for proof of existing credit monitoring to be eligible for the payment. At this time, anyone who would rather have the 10 years of ID protection, instead of the pennies they will likely receive, can change their mind.
With good reason, the FTC highly recommends taking the monitoring, which keeps an eye on all three credit reporting agencies and provides up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. Over 10 years that is a value into the thousands of dollars. Alternatively, you can wait and gamble that the millions that have filed cash claims change their minds.