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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, 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 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.

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February 01, 2020
I have not received any response, feedback, nothing even after filing my claim. I am still receiving emails claiming I have ordered something and need to pay for it - from some woman using my name from Minnesota
February 11, 2020
when exactly is this free credit monitoring supposed to start I filed a claim quite some time ago but haven't heard anything yet
FTC Staff
February 11, 2020

In reply to by Jake2400

The FTC has current information at The settlement administrator will not send out any benefits - including free credit monitoring - until it has reviewed and validated claims, and the court allows it to send benefits. 

March 05, 2020
Both my daughter and I were affected and mailed in our claim forms for free credit monitoring last year and have heard nothing. I noticed tonight that you can check the status of your claim on the settlement website if you have a claim number, which neither of us have received. Has anyone heard anything or received a claim number?
March 25, 2020
It is 3/14/2020 already I still did not receive my activation code. When can I expect to receive it? What is the deadline for receiving it?
FTC Staff
March 25, 2020

In reply to by valdny

None of the benefits will be distributed or available until the settlement is finally approved by the Court.

March 18, 2020
It is March 18, 2020. I filed a claim last year and still have not received an email from Equifax with an activation code. When is this going to happen?
March 25, 2020
I already have free credit monitoring. I applied for a cash settlement instead. Please tell Equifax to stop dragging their feet and send the check. Remember, I never engaged Equifax's services. Equifax barged in and started monitoring my credit and was irresponsible in handling my personal info.
Riley R
May 10, 2020
I was impacted by the breach so I submitted for the free monitoring about 6 months ago and I have never received any more from equifax. How do I even know if they reviewed my claim?
July 07, 2020
July 7, 2020 - filed for credit monitoring. Still no email or activation code. Last I got was an email in April saying to file a claim extension...which I don't need. Already submitted my claim last year in 2019.
July 11, 2020
I opted for the credit monitoring and gilled everything out, but never heard boo from them and still haven't gotten any free monitoring.
December 15, 2020
My wife and I opted for 10 years of free credit reporting in 2019 but have not received any confirmation of our selection which I thought was to be finalized in early 2020. How can we confirm we have this protection?