Skip cash for Equifax breach and get credit monitoring, F.T.C. tells victims

  • By Kate Kelly,
  • The New York Times News Service
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Overwhelmed by requests from consumers seeking compensation related to the giant 2017 data breach at the credit bureau Equifax, the Federal Trade Commission is recommending that people accept free credit monitoring rather than cash.

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In a blog post published on Wednesday, the agency announced that because of the high volume of requests, the F.T.C. would not be able to offer $125 to consumers whose data was hacked, the upper limit of what was initially offered. Instead, the commission is recommending that consumers seek credit-monitoring services.

“The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming,” wrote Robert Schoshinski, assistant director of the F.T.C.’s division of privacy and identity protection, referring to an agreement reached with Equifax last week.

As a result, “each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money,” he added. “Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”

About 147 million people were affected by Equifax’s breach, which resulted in the release of people’s names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other identifying information.

On July 22, the F.T.C., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 50 states and United States territories agreed to a global settlement with Equifax that promised up to $700 million in payments, including fines. But according to Mr. Schoshinski’s post, just $31 million was set aside for financial compensation for the affected consumers, not enough to meet demands for cash.

In lieu of a cash payment, consumers are being urged to seek the free credit-monitoring option, which, Mr. Schoshinski noted, is worth hundreds of dollars a year. But some readers of the agency’s post on Wednesday were anything but pleased by the suggestion.

“Seems like Equifax is getting off too easy for the mess they made,” read one anonymous response in the comment section. “Sounds like negotiators for Equifax out-danced the other side!”

Another anonymous commenter quipped: “Did someone forget to do the math?”

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