Why your Equifax settlement check might be smaller than you expected

Have you signed up to get your $125 from the big Equifax settlement? You might be disappointed.

People whose private information was exposed in the 2017 data breach may not be getting so much money, after all, the Federal Trade Commission said this week.

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 for this 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.

So where’s the rest of the money going?

The attorneys and their four law firms from the class-action suit against Equifax are set to ask a judge to allow them to be paid $77.5 million from the consumer restitution fund, plus they can file for reimbursement of another $3 million for expenses.

Forty-eight states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will split $175 million, according to the FTC. Another $100 million will go to the feds via the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

That does still leave consumers with another pot of money they can claim from for out-of-pocket expenses related to the breach, like placing a credit freeze. They can also claim money for the time they spent dealing with fraud and identity theft that resulted from the breach. They can claim up to 20 hours at a rate of $25 per hour.

Affected consumers are also entitled to receive free credit monitoring instead of the $125 payment. That’s what the FTC is now advising them to do, saying it’s “worth a lot more.”

“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,” the FTC said in a blog post this week.

People can find out if they were affected by the data breach or sign up for the settlement at equifaxbreachsettlement.com. The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 22, 2020.

Anyone who has already signed up for a cash settlement but would now rather swap to the free credit monitoring option can email the settlement administrator at info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.


Consumers who are part of the settlement can also object to the settlement by writing to the court. According to the settlement administrator, any objection letter must include the following:

  • The name of the case, such as “Equifax Inc. Customer Data Security Breach Litigation” or  “Case No. 1:17-md-2800-TWT,”
  • Your full name and address
  • Your personal signature (not an attorney’s signature)
  • An explanation of why you believe you’re part of the settlement
  • The reasons you’re objecting
  • Any other class action settlements you’ve objected to in the past five years
  • A statement as to whether you plan to attend the Dec. 19 hearing