Folks, there is simply not enough settlement cash to go around. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is continuing to encourage consumers affected by the Equifax data breach to choose free credit monitoring instead of cash.
Millions of Americans submitted claims to get the $125 offered by Equifax as part of its $425 million settlement with the FTC. Despite the size of the settlement, a $31 million cap was put on the cash claims.
Since that means most people will get a few dollars — if that — the FTC is warning that claimants could be giving up a better deal in exchange for a tiny amount of money. If you chose the cash option and now want the credit monitoring service instead, we'll tell you how you can make that happen.
Equifax settlement cash disappearing
In 2017, Equifax announced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. As part of its $425 million settlement with the government, consumers were given the choice of getting $125 or up to 10 years of free credit monitoring.
Not surprisingly, there was a stampede of claims for the $125. With the settlement fund draining, the FTC last week began extolling the virtues of the credit monitoring option.
"If your information was exposed in the data breach, and you file a valid claim before the deadline, you are guaranteed at least four years of free monitoring at all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and $1,000,000 of identity theft insurance, among other benefits," the FTC said, adding that if you chose the $125 option, "You will be disappointed with the amount you receive and you won’t get the free credit monitoring."
Getting the credit monitoring option instead
If you've decided to get the credit monitoring service but haven't filed an Equifax claim yet, it's easy. When you fill out your claim form just check the credit monitoring option.
If you have already submitted a claim for $125 and would like to get credit monitoring instead, you'll have to wait a bit and watch your email.
The FTC says the settlement administrator will be sending an email to people who have already submitted a claim for the cash payment. In that email, you will have the option to switch to free credit monitoring.
Don't file another claim. Wait for the email from the settlement administrator if you want to make the change. The FTC says the claims website will soon be updated with this information.
The FTC is also warning consumers about fake Equifax settlement websites. Whenever large amounts of money are at stake or a disaster happens, scammers are ready to cash in.
For the Equifax settlement, fake websites are designed to look like the official Equifax claims website. If you find a website that is still offering or even promising that you'll get $125, it's most likely a scam.
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