Equifax settlement cash might not be what you expect

There have been 4.5 million people have claimed cash reimbursement

More than 15 million victims of the 2017 Equifax data breach have put in claims for redress in the form of credit monitoring or money, according to new court filings.

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Following one of the largest breaches ever to threaten Americans’ private information -- 147 million people were affected -- there have been over 3.3 million claims for credit monitoring and over 4.5 million claims for money, the filing shows.

The compromised data included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers and in some cases and data from passports. The resulting scandal led to the resignation of Equifax’s then-CEO Richard Smith and other executives at the company.

WHY YOUR EQUIFAX SETTLEMENT CHECK MIGHT BE SMALLER THAN YOU EXPECTED

Following the breach, the company agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement that gave consumers two options. They could either receive 10 years of free credit monitoring or cash reimbursement.

Under the terms of the settlement to legal action over the breach, victims who already have credit monitoring are entitled to as much as $125. However, the FTC said the public response to the settlement has been “overwhelming,” so those who claim the cash payout option may receive just a percentage of what they’re entitled to.

Equifax has agreed to pay between $575 million and $700 million as part of the settlement. The agreement sets a $380.5 million “consumer restitution fund.” However, the deal only sets aside $31 million for people who already have credit monitoring. If everyone affected by the breach filed a claim for the money, each would get just 21 cents.

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“The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming,” the FTC warned consumers in September. “Because the total amount available for the alternative compensations is $31 million, each person who takes the money option is likely to get a very small amount. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”

EQUIFAX DEMANDS MORE CONSUMER INFO BEFORE MAKING PAYOUTS FOR MASSIVE BREACH

As of Dec. 1, 4.5 million claims for “alternative reimbursement compensation” were filed.

Representatives for Equifax did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment.

“You can still choose the cash option on the claim form, but you will be disappointed with the amount you receive and you won’t get the free credit monitoring.” 

- Federal Trade Commission

The FTC said the free credit monitoring option provides a much better value. Claimants are “guaranteed” at least four years of free monitoring at Equifax, Experian or TransUnion and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance, among other benefits, which is worth hundreds of dollars per year, according to the FTC.

The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 22, 2020.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.