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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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E.
July 31, 2019
This is unacceptable and ridiculous. Make them pay for the damages as they said they would. Stop letting big businesses off the hook for mistakes they make.
ThisIsAJoke
July 31, 2019
WASTE OF OUR TIME!!!
MS
July 31, 2019
This is so totally unacceptable. How could you possible not have anticipated the number of people who already have monitoring and would opt for the cash? We have been victimized twice. Once by Equifax and once by our government.
BJVH
July 31, 2019
I submitted my online claim summary today. When does the clock start ticking for the 4 yr monitoring? And, just to confirm, after that ends, then I will be given an option to be monitored for 6 add'l years by one of the three credit bureau services?
FTC Staff
August 02, 2019

In reply to by BJVH

Frequently Asked Question #19 on the settlement website www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says if you make a valid claim for credit monitoring services, the Settlement Administrator will send you information about how to activate your credit monitoring after the settlement is final. The Settlement Administrator will send you an activation code and link to the Experian website where you can enroll and activate your credit monitoring services. The settlement will be final on January 23, 2020 at the earliest.

If you make a valid claim and enroll in credit monitoring services, you can choose to enroll in up to six years of one-bureau credit monitoring services provided by Equifax that would start after the three-bureau credit monitoring services end. You must opt in for the one-bureau services when you submit your claim for credit monitoring services, and you will get instructions for how to enroll in the one-bureau monitoring before your three-bureau credit monitoring services end.

Matt
July 31, 2019
In the early days after the breech, Equifax asked for my personal information to inform me that I was indeed affected. NOW when they again ask for my personal information to check my eligibility for the settlement, surprise! turns out they claim I wasn't affected after all. Why on earth would I should believe them?
SD
July 31, 2019
Credit Monitoring is NOT worth "hundreds of dollars a year" - what a bald-faced lie. This was a terrible settlement that hardly took the consumers' interests into account. This is no deterrent to data brokers who profit off our our data with no skin in the game. Terrible outcome.
AttornyFeesGot…
July 31, 2019
What about those who applied for compensation for the hours they spent taking care of the problems? It was to be $25/hour.—has that “disappeared,” too?
3408jp
July 31, 2019
We had our acct. blocked and later it was unblocked,not by us,and caused much problems.We were lucky,bank called us first before a loan was granted.
sneakypie
July 31, 2019
What a joke. I already have free credit monitoring. Looks like the bad guys win again. I feel like I was violated 2 years ago by Equifax, and today the FTC just basically turned their heads and walked away, washing their hands of us. On paper, it looks like they did something to placate us. So everything's hunky-dorey now, right? Will you sleep okay tonight?
al-
July 31, 2019
I tried to contact the Settlement people, but the link provided did not work!
mad24558
July 31, 2019
so you want us to trust the same credit bureau that have the breach to monitor our credit. You got to be kidding me. This settlement is a joke. I checked to see if I was one of the people breach and I was so was my husband. We both have file a claim and choose the money instead because we are going to trust the credit bureaus to monitor any thing. by the way where/whom is the rest of the settlement money going to since on 31 millions was set aside for cash payments?
FTC Staff
February 27, 2020

In reply to by mad24558

As part of the proposed settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. The fund will also compensate consumers who bought credit or identity monitoring services from Equifax and paid other out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the 2017 data breach. Equifax will add up to $125 million to the fund if the initial payment is not enough to compensate consumers for their losses. The company also has agreed to pay $175 million to 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as $100 million to the CFPB in civil penalties.

achmafooma
July 31, 2019
Everybody already has free credit monitoring...most banks and credit card companies are offering it free or very low-cost with our bank and CC accounts. And most of us have already been effected by other breaches and were given free monitoring in the aftermath. Don't Equifax and the FTC have to follow the usual rules about bait-and-switch? Everybody was offered $125. If that's the option we choose, then you have to pay us $125. You can't promise one thing and then do another. If anybody other than the FTC did that, I would report it to the FTC, and you would fine the business for lying to consumers! And you should have planned for most people choosing the money. Everybody who wants credit monitoring already has it. Everybody who didn't want it before isn't going to magically start wanting it now just because it's offered for free, especially since most people can already get it for free elsewhere.
Dingus
July 31, 2019
How do we opt out of the credit monitoring? My credit score sucks anyways so experian's service would be useless. Plus I don't want Experian getting into my personal info anymore. They just sell it to advertisers anyways
bic
July 31, 2019
How is a $700 million dollar settlement set to use only $31 million for cash settlement. Sounds like FTC covering for another big business failure at the expense of those who were affected by this breach
FTC Staff
July 31, 2019

In reply to by bic

This FTC press release has more details about the settlement: Equifax to Pay $575 Million as Part of Settlement with FTC, CFPB, and States Related to 2017 Data Breach.

The press release explains that, as part of the proposed settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. The fund will also compensate consumers who bought credit or identity monitoring services from Equifax and paid other out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the 2017 data breach. The company also has agreed to pay $175 million to 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as $100 million to the CFPB in civil penalties.

There is more information about the settlement in the FAQs at www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

Equifax got off easy
July 31, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Can someone explain what the point in paying money to the states may be? Their information didn't get compromised, the individual consumers did. $31 million to consumers, $175 million to the states, an uninjured party, makes no sense.
Adam J
July 31, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

"Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. " Does this mean Equifax will be paying itself $300 million to monitor people's credit? Maybe, since most people chose the other option, they could instead spend less money on that fund and more money on paying $125 per person AS WAS PROMISED.
FTC Staff
August 15, 2019

In reply to by Adam J

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.

Shudup Ann Payme
August 02, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Why don’t you ask the 48 states, DC, and Puerto Rico if they want to opt for free credit monitoring instead of their cash payments? That would free up more funds for the actual victims in this case.
April
August 03, 2019

In reply to by bic

These lawsuits are set up for the attorneys to make money, not the claimants.
hmm
July 31, 2019
I can get free credit monitoring without Equifax's help. Pretty misleading "settlement."
citizen21
July 31, 2019
What is the purpose of them emailing to ask who I used for credit monitoring? It's none of their business, especially since they are an entity that has already been careless with data. Are they going to only pay out to people who give them the name of a company or prove that they use credit monitoring?
just me
July 31, 2019

In reply to by citizen21

in fact, the credit monitoring I had (until recently) *was* Equifax, which is why I find myself in this fix to begin with! So no thanks, give me my $125 and let me be on my way before anything else happens.
robbyrob
August 01, 2019

In reply to by citizen21

Agreed. I won't be providing this company with my information. They already have too much of it as it is.
CapitalOneVictimToo
August 01, 2019

In reply to by citizen21

What is the settlement administrator going to do with the name of my 3rd party credit monitoring company? Ask for verification from the company? Ask for an account number? Store it somewhere safe? I would be unhappy if my credit monitoring company gave any information out to anyone. Can we have more transparency to the process here? Thanks.
Illinnoyed
July 31, 2019
Of note: Yesterday's FTC blog post was about the Capital One data breach. Today's is about the Equifax breach. Instead of getting us free credit monitoring (which provides us exactly zero avenues of prevention of loss and only avenues of recompense), why doesn't the FTC advocate for Americans by implementing meaningful fines and punishments on companies as a means to deter these leaks. The best data breach is the one that doesn't happen and companies clearly won't be bothered to do anything about these incidents until they are held meaningfully accountable.
JEC
July 31, 2019
It appears that there are some added benefits included with the credit monitoring as opposed to the multiple instances of data breaches resulting in just credit monitoring from the past. However, considering the extent of the damage one would hope that Equifax would be required to provide lifetime monitoring with all the associated benefits mentioned. The threat isn't going away even after your dead it just won't matter to you afterward although it might for your family. Corporations left to their own devices will always take the short cut solution. Market solutions only benefit the businesses and seldom result in anything positive for consumers outside of saving a few pesos on whatever trinkets you're buying.
WTell
July 31, 2019
I am deeply disappointed in the FTC’s ability to think ahead here . Was it really that unexpected that millions of people would sign up for the cash option ? You don’t walk into a hypothetical room full of millions of people and say “free money” or “credit monitoring services you already have or don’t want” and not expect at least some large fraction not to stampede to the cash option. Why isn’t there an escalation clause here requiring Equifax to pony up more if the claimants suddenly drain the pool ? Where is the forethought on behalf of the consumers ? Why are the state attorneys general getting a bigger cut than the tax paying public ? I am deeply disappointed in you FTC. I expect better and you have let us down .
Ssoupset
July 31, 2019
Honestly ridiculous I’ve been harassed by all kinds of scams hospitals personal medical information breached,I already suffer from identity theft and now this very disappointed. I’m going to seek legal counsel I’m not agreeing to anything this just put me in a deeper and more serious situation.
BH
July 31, 2019
I was not comfortable using the link to see if I was one of the millions who was affected by the breach. They wanted too much personal information.
Jeremy S
July 31, 2019
This is a disgrace. I don't want the credit monitoring of a company that has demonstrated they cannot be trusted with data. It's like getting food poisoning from a restaurant and being offered more free food.
Tgs303
July 31, 2019
What a joke. Just goes to show they think we’re not paying attention. 147 million people affected, so they should have assumed 147 million would file a claim. There are plenty of free credit monitoring tools available already that are free. Another case of the big guys ripping off the little people once again. Total scam there was no mention of a lessor amount being set aside for payout. I wouldn’t have even bothered filing now my information is on yet another database somewhere waiting to get picked off.
Concerned Citizen
July 31, 2019
Why can't the FTC do it's job? Is it that hard to actually hold these companies that we can't opt out of using in the first place. The FTC, as part of the government, is supposed to represent the people, not the corporations. Do your job!
MC
July 31, 2019
I’m guessing the FTC attorneys left a couple zeros off the settlement papers, and Equifax happily signed it quick! Do the public a favor and remind them anyone can get a FREE credit report once a year from each of the three main credit companies by going to...... Annualcreditreport.com Congress passed that law years ago!
Hamilton G
July 31, 2019
I filed clams for both my wife and myself and opted for the credit monitoring. Will we be eligible for monthly credit reports from Experian? I wasn’t sure. When will we hear from the administrator? December/January?
FTC Staff
August 02, 2019

In reply to by Hamilton G

Frequently Asked Question #19 on the settlement website www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com says if you make a valid claim for credit monitoring services, the Settlement Administrator will send you information about how to activate your credit monitoring after the settlement is final. The settlement will be final on January 23, 2020 at the earliest.

The Settlement Administrator will provide you with an activation code and link to the Experian website where you can enroll and activate your credit monitoring services.

Mtgrma
July 31, 2019
they ask for part of a person's SS# in order to see if affected, I am not comfortable with entering any part of the SS#
alexmoot
July 31, 2019
The claim website does NOT state that someone choosing the Cash Option will receive "up to $125" as this FTC post says. The website promises $125 - here is the verbatim text : "Option 2, Cash Payment: I want a cash payment of $125. I certify that I have credit monitoring and will have it for at least 6 months from today."
BK
July 31, 2019
So even tho i opted for the 125 payout, now they say its gonna be less unless i decide to opt for credit monitoring instead? That doesn't seem fair, as i dont have credit monitoring and i should have the option of getting it at another time....
FTC Staff
August 30, 2019

In reply to by BK

FAQ #10 on the Equifax settlement site says you can ask for compensation of up to $125 if you already have credit monitoring, and don't claim it through the settlement. The Equifax settlement site is www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com.

dontuseyourema…
July 31, 2019
These people lost data for 147 million people and their punishment was a piddling 31 million? This is too absurd for farce
Logical Man
July 31, 2019
147 million potential breaches times $125 is > $18 billion... Surely 425 million will not cover everyone getting cash... we all took the bait: hook, line and sinker...
anti-equifax
July 31, 2019
I already submitted the claim for $125 and didn't bother submitting the claim for lost time because I figured $125 was enough. Now that I know I will get much less than the agreed upon figure I would like to go back and submit for the time lost freezing credit, etc... How do I go about filing the claim for $25/hour of lost time due to the breach? Thank-you
FTC Staff
August 28, 2019

In reply to by anti-equifax

You can submit a claim from www.FTC.gov/Equifax or www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com. The first page of the Equifax site lists the benefits a person could file for. The FAQ on the Equifax site have information about the benefits.

Affected Gover…
July 31, 2019
The lawyers negotiating the settlement should settle for getting free credit monitoring instead of cash for their labor and time.
bummed
July 31, 2019
I think EVERYONE should have gotten a LIFETIME of credit monitoring, simply because hackers are going to have our data for a VERY long time.