If you’re waiting for a $125 check or debit card from the Equifax settlement, you might be disappointed. Most people who were affected by the company’s massive 2017 data breach may receive a much smaller chunk of change.
The settlement is the result of a 2017 breach in which the personal data of 147 million U.S. consumers – including social security numbers, birth dates and addresses- was exposed to hackers. Because the company failed to protect this personal data, the company was forced to shell out $700 million as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and various state attorneys general.
While some of this money is going to fines, about $425 million is going to assist the people affected by the data breach to compensate them for time dedicated to dealing with identity theft and up to $20,000 for expenses incurred because of the breach.
Everyone who is affected by this breach will have the option to chose between having your credit monitored, for free, for 10 years, or getting a $125 payment in the form of a check or debit card.
If you dig into the details about the program, however, only $31 million of the $700 million settlement will go to consumers who choose to receive a payout.
As it says in the settlement’s FAQ section: “If there are more than $31 million in claims for time spent during the initial claims period…, all payments for time spent will be reduced and distributed on a proportional basis.”
If you do the math, it means that there’s only enough money for 248,000 people to receive $125, in what is known as Alternative Reimbursement Compensation.
At the same time, it might be difficult to prove that your data was mishandled as a result of the Equifax breach and to receive the up to $20,000 available for out-of-pocket expenses. As CNBC reports, it can be difficult to link identity theft to a specific data breach. These funds are separate from the $31 million set aside for the Alternative Reimbursement Compensation program, and are handled differently. If this compensation exceeds the funds set aside for this section of the program, Equifax will add up to $125 million to pay for claims.
As a part of the settlement you can still have access to identity restoration services for the next seven years, which includes access to a call center for assistance. So even if you’re not satisfied with the payout you receive, it may be worth bookmarking the Equifax settlement’s website — just in case.
If you’d still like the chance to get some compensation, check if you can check if you were affected by the breach here. You can file a claim on Equifax’s data breach settlement website until January 22, 2020.