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Just last week, the FTC and others reached a settlement with Equifax about its September 2017 data breach that exposed personal information of 147 million people. We’ve told you to go to ftc.gov/Equifax, where you can find out if your information was exposed and learn how to file a claim with the company in charge of the claims process.

The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming, and we’re delighted that millions of people have visited ftc.gov/Equifax and gone on to the settlement website’s claims form.

But there’s a downside to this unexpected number of claims. First, though, the good: all 147 million people can ask for and get free credit monitoring. There’s also the option for people who certify that they already have credit monitoring to claim up to $125 instead. But the pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million. 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.

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

For those who have already submitted claims for this cash payment, look for an email from the settlement administrator. They’ll be asking you for the name of the credit monitoring service you already have. Or, if you want to change your mind, you’ll have a chance to switch to the free credit monitoring. The email from the settlement administrator will tell you what to do next, in either case. And the settlement administrator has said that the claims website will soon be updated with that information, too.

Please also note that there is still money available under the settlement to reimburse people for what they paid out of their pocket to recover from the breach. Say you had to pay for your own credit freezes after the breach, or you hired someone to help you deal with identity theft. The settlement has a larger pool of money for just those people. If you’re one of them, use your documents to submit your claim.

This blog post was clarified on August 1, 2019.

562 Comments


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Disapointed
July 31, 2019
This settlement is a joke. Credit monitoring as a service is not a suitable punishment for what this company has done. If they need to pay more in cash, that's their problem. I don't know why you thought anyone would take up a company that couldn't keep our data secure on monitoring our credit. Equifaxed should be put out of business, as a lesson to Experian and TransUnion to get their data security in order.
Nikki
July 31, 2019
You need to update the settlement email address with a valid email account.
FTC Staff
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Nikki

Are you referring to the email address in this blog?

AE
July 31, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

The email address in the post is "info@EquifaxBreachSettlement". This is not a valid email address.
VT
August 04, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

You gave an incorrect email address! Are people who used it, now exposed to more fraud? How long would this have continued with out the heads up given, by this person? The level of incompetence is unbelievable! Equifax, also, gave an incorrect address after the breach. Ironic!
FTC Staff
August 05, 2019

In reply to by VT

We initially had an incomplete email address that didn't give people enough information to send a message.

Greengiant
July 31, 2019
I am a widow, almost 70 years old and blind. I do not want monitoring. I want money which I have none of at this time. Are you sure Equifax is just not wanting to pay?
Nice try...
July 31, 2019
Too late to dial it back now. You owe us! Deal with it!
PO'd
July 31, 2019
Seems like Equifax is getting off too easy for the mess they made. Again. Sounds like negotiators for Equifax out-danced the other side! People need to see real compensation for this stuff. Has not happened -- thus companies recklessly keep dropping the ball over and over again.
FTC protects C…
July 31, 2019

In reply to by PO'd

I agree totally. This settlement is a joke. Nobody wants more free credit monitoring, every breach offers this.
bashful
July 31, 2019
i have free credit monitoring through my bank
Mil
August 07, 2019

In reply to by bashful

Right ..Which I trust the bank credit monitoring more then Equifax monitoring . Our information is already out there an it could be used at anytime. Equifax should be paying more to the people affected by the breach. Who’s going to help you 2-3 yrs. down the road with credit fraud . I don’t want Equifax monitoring my credit.
Lee Patske
July 31, 2019
So how do I sign up for the credit monitoring option?
FTC Staff
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Lee Patske

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to find out if your information was exposed and learn how to file a claim. When you are on www.FTC.gov/Equifax:

  • Click on the blue button at the top of the page that says File a Claim.
  • You will be directed to www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.
  • Choose how you want to submit a claim: online, by downloading a paper form, or by having a paper form mailed to you.
HaveAccessToday.com
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Lee Patske

Why would you Use the same company that lost your info in the first place to protect you after? That is like having someone that had keys to your home and lost the keys be the same person to install the alarm system??? WHAT you already lost my trust. From spending a decade in risk management I already feel like Chicken Little explaining the horrific problem people face after events like these and now they are common place just look to Capital ONE this week!
geogirl
August 05, 2019

In reply to by HaveAccessToday.com

Extremely well put! You hit the nail on the head.
Teaching on the FLy
September 07, 2019

In reply to by geogirl

I'm confused. Equifax is responsible for the breach. Experian would be providing the free credit monitoring. I'm pretty uniformed about these companies. Are Experian and Equifax the same?
FTC Staff
August 05, 2019

In reply to by HaveAccessToday.com

FAQ #8 on the settlement website www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says Settlement Class Members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four (4) years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost.
Irkedconsumer
July 31, 2019
Free credit monitoring does not add any value for those of us that are already subscribed to free credit monitoring from other recent data breaches. It seems apparent that the fines and the money set aside for cash payments are inadequate. I suspect the FTC is unaware of how many of us have previously had our data stolen through Home Depot, Target, Fed Govt., etc. My data has been compromised numerous times and I've received numerous free credit monitoring compensations. Frankly, it's all getting pretty tiresome. Fine these companies A LOT and give that money to the consumers whose data has been compromised. Credit monitoring is a joke.
Yup
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Irkedconsumer

Exactly this. I started looking through my old email, and I see - Anthem, Target, Home Depot, OPM, Kickstarter, to name a few, plus free monitoring I already get from my credit union and various credit cards. Probably more that I never got an email notice about. Pretending this free monitoring has any real value to most people is ridiculous.
Samsonzmom
September 05, 2019

In reply to by Yup

We get our identity stolen & offered free identity theft protection?? Isn't that how our identity got stolen to begin with my trusting people to take care of that for us? Yeah I think I'll pass on that free protection myself! Then get offered chump change for that trust we put in someone and to me it's kind of like somebody cutting your head off and then offering you a Band-Aid! Someone needs to be held accountable I mean really!
Ken in LA
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Irkedconsumer

I completely agree! It's ridiculous that these settlements amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist to these companies, yet they put us consumers at risk for potentially the rest of our lives! There should be no "settlements". This continual behavior needs to be dealt with by mandatory penalties (paid to the consumers) that "hurt" these businesses.
Jansberg
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Irkedconsumer

This is my situation two. I already have three years of credit monitoring from another hack and I bought LifeLock earlier this year just to be extra safe. I signed up for the cash to help pay for LifeLock that I already purchased. If they don't want so many people taking the cash then they should make the credit monitoring redeemable at a later date. Such as, sign up for the monitoring now but you can wait a year, three years, or whenever your current monitoring expires before signing up for this one. And the other irritating thing is that Experian and all these other companies use these credit monitoring programs to try to upsell to you their other paid services.
FTC Staff
August 30, 2019

In reply to by Jansberg

If you paid money - to buy credit monitoring for example -  and spent time dealing with the breach, you can file a claim for a cash payment. Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to learn more.

thisiscrazy
August 01, 2019

In reply to by Irkedconsumer

Now Capital One.. to add to the list you mentioned.. Wonder how many more big companies are going to pop up now!!
ret2011
August 01, 2019

In reply to by Irkedconsumer

And now we get to add "Capital One" to the list. And it appears they're supposed to have "credit monitoring" as well.
frustrated bey…
August 01, 2019

In reply to by Irkedconsumer

EXACTLY!! My information has been breached at so many companies I practically have free monitoring for life! Having 3 or more companies monitoring my information does nothing for me. Someone should really be paying--A LOT!
Talleymom
August 01, 2019

In reply to by Irkedconsumer

I have credit monitoring through my financial agencies. It is free. Tell me how I am going to benefit from an additional credit monitoring. I have had my information exposed multiple times through several companies. Each of them offer the free monitoring. How about this, free monitoring for life for all? After all it is our information. Why should we have to pay to protect it?
concernedcitizen
July 31, 2019
What company(s) will provide the credit monitoring service?
FTC Staff
August 01, 2019

In reply to by concernedcitizen

The claim site, www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says this:

Settlement Class Members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four (4) years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost.

That is in Question #8 of the Frequently Asked Questions.

anti-equifax
July 31, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Is there a benefit to opt for the monitoring if you already have free monitoring? Also is there an option to opt out of monitoring from equifax? It seems to me that most consumers would want as little to do with Equifax as possible after the data breach and the now-abysmal payout.
FTC Staff
August 30, 2019

In reply to by anti-equifax

Equifax will pay $300 million into a fund that will pay Experian to provide the first four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services. If you request four years of Experian monitoring, you can also request six additional years of one-bureau monitoring by Equifax. There are other benefits for people whose information was exposed in the breach. Learn more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax and www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

NoThankYou
August 01, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

So Experian is providing it?
life is hard
September 05, 2019

In reply to by NoThankYou

Criminals ruin our life and all of our credit cards ,credit score etc and u r offering free credit monitoring ? LOL what a joke I want my life back with my excellent credit score just like the way it was before this .We are still dealing to clear all
Concerned Consumer
July 31, 2019
If I opt for credit monitoring and suffer identity theft after the monitoring period provided under the settlement, do I forfeit my right to sue Equifax?
Peterg
July 31, 2019
You offer free credit monitoring but you don’t provide a way of signing up for it. This is adding insult to injury.
FTC Staff
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Peterg

This blog says to go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to find out if your information was exposed and learn how to file a claim. When you go there:

  • Click on the blue button at the top of the page that says File a Claim.
  • You will be directed to www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.
  • Choose how you want to submit a claim: online, by downloading a paper form, or by having a paper form mailed to you.
breached2
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Peterg

yes i was thinking the same. i also think we should be given the option to freeze our credit at no cost!
caith
July 31, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I froze my accts a while ago, so I opted for the $125 and filled out a form. A few months ago, a strange thing happened. I am an older person so when one of my CDs matures, rather than letting it roll over, I take it to another bank to get a better rate. This last bank, Sun Bank, wanted to run a credit check on me before they would let me invest in a CD. WHAT! I was giving them MY money, not borrowing money from them! I had to actually un-freeze my credit so Sun Bank could check my credit before they would issue me a CD. What was that all about? Is this the New Normal? Someone please explain. Thank you.
Shannon
August 01, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I had to pay to freeze my credit after equifax’s breach...has something changed and now it’s free?
FTC Staff
August 02, 2019

In reply to by Shannon

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to check if you were affected by the Equifax breach and learn about filing a claim.

If your information was exposed in the Equifax breach, you can file a claim for expenses you paid because of the breach. You can file a claim for paying for things like the cost of credit monitoring, freezing & unfreezing your credit reports, or losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts.

slush
August 10, 2019

In reply to by Shannon

I froze my credit for free after my identity was stolen due to the Equifax breach. It is free now as of a law that passed last September due to this breach.
Joel
August 12, 2019

In reply to by Shannon

Yes. A federal law was passed since then that makes all credit freezes and unfreezes free.
Victim
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Peterg

Yes, they do. It's one of the options when you go to the Experian breach site. I chose the credit monitoring.
Readitfirstthe…
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Peterg

Yes they do. I’ve already signed up for the 4 years by all three credit bureaus and another 6 years through EQUIFAX afterwards for a total of 10 years. You just can’t do it from this “blog”. A blog is just informational only. Not intended for official business. Go to the FTC government site and you can do it as I did.
Me
July 31, 2019

In reply to by Peterg

I clicked on the link to ftc.gov/equifax (in the blue letters in this blog) and filled out the form to see if my info was impacted by the data breach. It was, and a page came up offering the free credit monitoring or the cash payment. It was actually quick and easy to understand and get signed up.
firandle
July 31, 2019
I chose the credit monitoring as it is guaranteed, as opposed to the pay out which may not be. And if you really think about it, the value of the 3 credit bureau monitoring is worth more than $125.