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Why Your $125 Equifax Settlement Might Not Be $125

There are scammers and pitfalls, but also sound advice
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2019 4:44 PM CDT
This file photo shows signage at the corporate headquarters of Equifax Inc. in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

(Newser) – Running into trouble with your Equifax claim? Others are in the same boat, prompting advice from federal officials and media outlets alike. To recap, Equifax agreed to an initial $380.5 million settlement after failing to protect itself from a huge 2017 data hack. Now consumers affected by the snafu are encouraged to use this tool to apply for either a one-time $125 cash payment or 10 years of free credit monitoring. Those who endured heavy losses can also apply for a cash payment of up to $20,000, and people can seek $25 per hour for up to 20 hours to compensate for their time dealing with the breach and its consequences. But users of the tool are running into problems, USA Today reports. A rundown of what's happening and what to do:

  • Users are getting different results for the same combination of a name and the last six digits of a Social Security number. People mixing random names with "123456" are getting a result of "affected" by the breach.
  • Others who sought both the credit monitoring and a cash payment have been approved for both, creating confusion. So confidence in the system isn't running high.
  • Scammers have created fake settlement-related websites to take your money and your identifying information, the FTC says. Be wary of suspicious banner ads, phone calls, and emails.
  • The FTC also advises people to take the free credit monitoring in case cash applications drain the fund, CNBC reports. "The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming," says the FTC.
  • Indeed, $31 million has been set aside for the "up to $125" payments. Once 248,000 claims come in (a tiny fraction of the 147 million people affected), that "$125" begins to drop, per Yahoo Finance.
  • Those who request the cash anyway will have to wait for an email from the settlement's administrator. Then users can switch to credit monitoring if they want. Anyone tired of waiting for the email can contact the settlement administrator, JND Legal Administration, at info@EquifaxBreachSettlement.
  • More than one media outlet reminds people that no matter what you choose, the best protection is to freeze your credit.
  • Anyone seeking an Equifax settlement has until Jan. 22, 2020 to apply.
(See our initial report on applying to Equifax.)

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