Affected consumers may be eligible to receive money by filing one or more claims for conditions including money spent purchasing credit monitoring or identity theft protection after the breach and the cost of freezing or unfreezing credit reports at any consumer reporting agency.
In return for leaking highly sensitive personal data on about 147 million consumers, about 45% of the entire U.S. population, the company will pay at least $575 million.
Because you might actually end up getting "far less than $125". 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. The amount of money set aside for the cash payment option is "capped at $31 million", according to the FTC, so consumers who go with that option might not get the $125 they expected.
"Previously, a cash payment was identified as an option", the site now adds, "but there are limited funds available".
"For those who have already submitted claims for this cash payment, look for an email from the settlement administrator", Schoshinski said. Or if someone already has credit monitoring services in place, they could opt for the cash payment.
A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James's office agreed with the FTC about the pluses of credit monitoring, saying that "free credit monitoring for 10 years is an extremely valuable tool for consumers across the country affected by the breach", CNBC reports.
The federal agency also notes that consumers will never have to pay to file a claim for these benefits.
Consumers are advised to "beware of fake websites claiming to be the Equifax settlement claims website" and instead apply for claims through the link provided on the FTC's official website. Say you had to pay for your own credit freezes after the breach, or you hired someone to help you deal with identity theft. But it seems likely there will be many fewer claimants seeking high-value reimbursement than claimants seeking the $125 credit monitoring alternative, as those claims require a much higher bar of proof.