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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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FTC Staff
August 02, 2019

In reply to by Hacked David

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 on how to activate your credit monitoring once the settlement is final. The settlement will be final on January 23, 2020 at the earliest.

bruceinDFW
August 01, 2019
Free credit monitoring for life is the only reasonable alternative settlement. I don’t plan on changing my name, birth date or social security number for the rest of my life! Why on earth should Equifax be allowed to stop “being held responsible” for their error?
C'mon
August 01, 2019
You know that most of the the emails sent requesting credit monitoring information will never clear spam filters and that will result in nonpayment.
festoonic2
August 01, 2019
I already have free credit monitoring from another big data breach. I want money.
aldenba
August 01, 2019
Website just spins when I try to input a claim.
Tom
August 01, 2019
You should have done better math. Free credit monitoring is useless for many of us. We already got multiple free credit monitoring subscriptions from all the other breaches we were involved in. Since they don't stack we can't use it. So I'm filing a claim for the cash. Any amount would would be far more valuable than the credit monitoring.
jsutton
August 01, 2019
I have signed up for the four years of three bureau credit monitoring through Experian. How do I get the additional 6 years of one bureau credit monitoring through Equifax? TIA
FTC Staff
August 02, 2019

In reply to by jsutton

The FAQ # 8 (frequently asked question) on the settlement website (www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com) says 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 have to choose the one-bureau service when you submit your claim for credit monitoring services, and you will be sent instructions for how to enroll in the one-bureau monitoring before your three-bureau credit monitoring services end.

Tim S
August 01, 2019
I signed up for the free credit monitoring. When will monitoring start, and how will I know it had begun? I didn't not receive a confirmation email upon singing up, was I supposed to?
FTC Staff
August 02, 2019

In reply to by Tim S

The settlement website (www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com) says that if you make a valid claim for credit monitoring services, the Settlement Administrator will tell you 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 give you an activation code and a link to the Experian website where you can enroll and activate your credit monitoring services.

Unhappy with FTC
August 01, 2019
The FTC blew it in my opinion. Why would a consumer want to accept Equifax monitoring in lieu of a $125 payment. Equifax got us here in the first place. Why trust them now. Offering free credit monitoring has no value to most consumers. I would gladly pay $125 NOT to have had my data compromised. The least the FTC could do is make sure there is enough money in that pot to pay the millions who are entitled to participate in it. The FTC appears to have dropped the ball on this one! To bad for consumers!
Linterisa
August 01, 2019
Allowing Equifax to offer free credit monitoring instead of a cash payment is totally ineffective. I currently have 2 credit monitoring services resulting from 3 previous credit breaches. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to provide a credit monitoring service rather than a cash payment. Until there are adequate consequences for not protecting our data, these companies will learn nothing.
zoek
August 01, 2019
I never authorized Equifax to collect my data in the first place. The fact that they collected it and then gave it to hackers through their lackluster attention to security should be punished. It has caused me great inconvenience. Why would I trust a credit reporting company to monitor my information after it was was violated by another credit reporting company?
Liz
August 01, 2019
So more un-truths.
Dude, where's …
August 01, 2019
Boo. This is bad, and you should be ashamed. Pay me my money.
Hoodwinked by FTC
August 01, 2019
So the Equifax judgement went from 700 million to 35 million? What shady deal was made here? Sounds like the heads of the FTC and Equifax needs to be gone. We need an investigation into what is going on. A shady deal indeed with Americans getting screwed again. We demand answers.
FTC Staff
August 05, 2019

In reply to by Hoodwinked by FTC

Read the FTC press release for details about the proposed settlement agreement, including:

  • Equifax Inc. agreed to pay at least $575 million, and potentially up to $700 million, as part of a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and 50 U.S. states and territories
  • 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.
Irritated and …
February 25, 2020
This is both absurd and a dereliction of duty. Who do you represent? Who marketed this settlement as one in which Americans would receive $125. You have let these idiots off with a slap on the wrist. They collect our data as their business model and then allow it to be collected by hackers and scammers Shame on you.
EMK
August 01, 2019
Hi, I signed up for the credit monitoring already along with a request to be reimbursed for two hours of signing up for credit freezes. I'm confused as to whether the payment for the two hours will be done instead of the credit monitoring - did I cancel out the credit monitoring by asking for the two hours? It's not my intention. Can someone clarify this, please? Thanks!
FTC Staff
August 05, 2019

In reply to by EMK

FAQ #8 on the settlement website (www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com) says: You may make a claim for both reimbursement for Out-of-Pocket Losses and/or Time Spent and Credit Monitoring Services. 

MyInfoWasSold
August 01, 2019
If the credit monitoring and protection of the major credit bureaus was worth the thousands of dollars you're claiming, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. Why Experian is handling this instead of an impartial third party is a mystery.
Unacceptable
August 01, 2019
So after getting our identity stolen and promised restitution, you will just give us a year of credit monitoring...two years after the breach. As if we haven't already addressed the breach over the last two years. This is ridiculous. Too much work on your end is not acceptable when 147 MILLION people had to take it upon themselves to rectify this initially for their own economic wellbeing and safety. This is all a sham. Shame on you.
FTC Staff
August 05, 2019

In reply to by Unacceptable

If your information was exposed in the Equifax breach, you can claim up to 10 years of free credit monitoring. You can claim cash payments, capped at $20,000 per person, for expenses you paid as a result of the Equifax breach and time you spent dealing with the breach. Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to learn about the benefits.

FedUpConsumer
August 01, 2019
Thise of us affected did not wait for the settlement. Wegot our credit monitoring system after the breach and before the settlement. It would have been dumb to continue to be vulnerable without protection. So we should take a settlement on something we already have? Bad settlement
Anna
August 01, 2019
Hey, FTC — Millions of Americans ALREADY have free credit monitoring resulting from data breaches involving other companies. You should know that. We should be able to claim and receive the full $125 each from the Equifax settlement.
AverageAmerican
August 03, 2019

In reply to by Anna

Or how about $1,000 per affected consumer instead?
bs1030
August 01, 2019
so why sign off on a settlement that's not enough to cover the claimants $125 ...that's bad court business if you asked me
MonieArn77
August 01, 2019
Here is an idea...they need to use all the money as part of the settlement and go out of business! They are a business and should not be above reproach. I bet their top executives still make the same amount of money! Who says that they HAVE to stay in business?
EquifaxThieves
August 01, 2019
So, you set aside less than 5% of the $700,000,000 for compensation for those of us who had to spend hours and hours untangling Equifax's mess. Where is the remaining $669,000,000 going?
NoThankYou
August 01, 2019
What if we don't trust these agencies to provide "free credit monitoring" without selling our personal information or otherwise using it for profit?
LA
August 01, 2019
Why would having two credit monitoring services give me any advantage over the one free credit monitoring service I already have (which I have from another institution's data breach)? Suggesting people switch to a redundant credit monitoring service is not helpful. It makes no sense that ten times the dollar amount is available for credit monitoring than for cash settlements, when credit monitoring has zero value to the many many people who already have it.
FTC Staff
August 15, 2019

In reply to by LA

The free, three-bureau credit monitoring from Experian - and $1 million of identity theft insurance - are some the benefits you can ask for under the settlement. You can also file a claim cash payments for expenses you paid as a result of the breach, and time you spent dealing with the breach.

Even if you don't file a claim, you can get free identity restoration services if someone steals your personal information. And starting in 2020, all U.S. consumers will be able to get six free credit reports a year for seven years from the Equifax website.

Learn more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

Don't use yoje…
August 01, 2019
Hell no. No "free" credit monitoring from this inept company.i dont care if its 10 cents. Send me MY money.
Bigdogmom82
August 01, 2019
I Had the credit monitoring from the 1st time this happened and yet my information was compromised Again!! I agree with the commenter who questioned why the FTC didn't demand a sum like they hit Facebook with!! Now I'm in a situation where my home burned down in February. I lost EVERYTHING (but my dogs & truck thank God!) but I have no documents, nothing. What am I supposed to do? Credit monitoring is a joke. I have freezes on all 3, but after losing everything & having to start over, it doesn't seem to even matter now. Just when I was building up my credit too.
BGB
August 01, 2019
If the amount of fine is not enough to cover this measly claim, then maybe that's a sign that the fine was not high enough given the negligence of Equifax. Instead of urging people to rescind the request and change it for providing further business to a negligent company, increase the fine.
WeTookAction
August 01, 2019
I’ve independently spent hundreds on credit monitoring because of this. I hope they make it right for the people who have actually been paying out of pocket to keep their information secure since this breach occurred. It’s unfair to the people who felt they had absolutely no other choice but to pay every month for security. Make this right.
FTC Staff
August 07, 2019

In reply to by WeTookAction

Go to www.FTC.gov/Equifax to read about the benefits you could claim if your information was exposed in the Equifax breach. You could file a claim, capped at $20,000, for expenses paid as a result of the breach and time you spent dealing with the breach. Read more at www.FTC.gov/Equifax.

Informed Citizen
August 01, 2019
Why would I trust the same people who exposed my data to guard it? Maybe you should have held Equifax's feet to the fire a little more than blaming us for not trusting the people who screwed us over in the first place.
FTC Staff
August 15, 2019

In reply to by Informed Citizen

Under the settlement, you can ask for four years of free, three-bureau credit monitoring from Experian.

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.

consumer
August 01, 2019
The credit monitoring option should be labelled "just let the CRAs keep my money" for clarity.
Skeptical
August 01, 2019
Who is going to protect us from these three credit bureaus selling our information, or capitalizing on their errors. At least 4 years then *maybe* up to 6 years more - who will make that decision. Oh, right, its the company who made this necessary in the first place. How many subsidiaries do these companies have, that also have access to our data. It appears that these companies have virtual complete control over their own policing. Why should we trust them to do this they have already proved themselves incompetent. With the Administration reverencing of consumer protection for the average american, i am wary of these companies.
Dani From Chicago
August 01, 2019
Hallmark of capitalism is for hurting the pocketbooks of companies for providing bad service, bad products or do anything that is not in the interest of the customer and public. How is a 575million settlement punishing Equifax? What is the FTC doing besides these fines insuring this never happens again. And why is this credit monitoring not provided for life of everyone affected?
BenW
August 01, 2019
For clarity; 143,000,000 people were affected and the settlement planned for only 248,000 people to get the $125? That is 0.173%...
jimbo11
August 01, 2019
Well here's an idea then. Make the penalty bigger until everyone gets $125, *and* offer free credit monitoring *for life* for affected people. I did not contract with any of these companies, and yet they gave away my information. Why should I be punished for this, and not them?
Annoyed consumer
August 01, 2019
Firstly, I reasonably assume most people get free credit monitoring via their credit cards. Secondly, why on earth would I trust equifax to monitor anything? They've already proven they couldn't keep track of my personal information!
Donaldvetal
September 03, 2019
Why would I want credit monitoring from an organization that doesn't deserve anyone's trust. This is a joke.
FTC Staff
September 03, 2019

In reply to by Donaldvetal

FAQ #8 states that Settlement Class Members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost. Go to www.EquifaxBreachSettlement.com to learn more.

BMTAT
August 01, 2019
I have submitted my claims for 10 years credit checks and received the claims # from Equifax so when can i receive the free credit reports because I need to see my credit report..ASAP
FTC Staff
August 02, 2019

In reply to by BMTAT

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.

You can get a free copy of your annual credit report once every 12 months at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

SandCastle
August 01, 2019
Of course the relatively meager settlement amount could not cover $125 payments to 147 million people! Yet another big corporation got off easy...