Two years ago, Equifax blamed an “application vulnerability” for a “cybersecurity incident” that exposed personal data of 143 million consumers. Last week, it agreed to pay $125 to any affected person who asks for it. Unfortunately, that’s another lie.
Here’s what it says on the Equifax Breach Settlement site:
Welcome To The Equifax Data Breach Settlement Website
In September of 2017, Equifax announced it experienced a data breach, which impacted the personal information of approximately 147 million people. A federal court is considering a proposed class action settlement submitted on July 22, 2019, that, if approved by the Court, would resolve lawsuits brought by consumers after the data breach. Equifax denies any wrongdoing, and no judgment or finding of wrongdoing has been made.
If you are a class member, you can use this website to claim the benefits described below.
Please note that none of these benefits will be distributed or available until the settlement is finally approved by the Court.
1. Free Credit Monitoring or $125 Cash Payment. You can get free credit monitoring services. Or, if you already have credit monitoring services, you can request a $125 cash payment.
At least 4 years of three-bureau credit monitoring, offered through Experian. You can also get up to 6 more years of free one-bureau credit monitoring through Equifax.
If you already have credit monitoring services that will continue for at least 6 more months, you may be eligible for a cash payment of $125.
Notice that this doesn’t say, “up to $125,” it says “a cash payment of $125.”
Many of us already have credit monitoring that we got for free because of some other breach. So we should get paid, right?
Well, let’s do a little math. There are 147 million people eligible for the settlement. The settlement fund is $31 million.
How many people will file claims? That’s hard to know, but the settlement is very popular — who wouldn’t want $125 for free? So let’s assume a million people file claims.
Then you get $31.
If you two million people file claims, you’ll get $15.50. The fund doesn’t get bigger. It just gets sliced into smaller pieces.
How do I know this?
Well, deep in the FAQ, the tenth question has this information:
Settlement Benefit: Cash Alternative Reimbursement Compensation:
If you already have some other kind of credit monitoring or protection services, and do not claim the free Credit Monitoring Services available through the settlement, you may file a claim for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation for up to $125. To claim Alternative Reimbursement Compensation you must certify that you have some form of credit monitoring or protection services on the date you submit your claim form and that you will keep those services for a minimum of six (6) months.
You should keep in mind that:
The deadline for all claims for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation is 01/22/2020.
* If you claim Alternative Reimbursement Compensation, you cannot claim free Credit Monitoring Services.
* If you claim Alternative Reimbursement Compensation, you cannot also seek reimbursement for purchasing credit monitoring or protection services covering the 6 month period after you make your claim. However, you can still make other claims for Time Spent or Out-of-Pocket Losses.
* If there are more than $31 million claims for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation, all payments for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation will be lowered and distributed on a proportional basis.
That last bullet means you’re not getting $125.
Passive triumphs again
Notice how they wrote that last bullet:
all payments for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation will be lowered and distributed on a proportional basis.
Our old friend, passive voice. How does that read, translated into active voice?
If there are more than $31 million claims for Alternative Reimbursement Compensation, we’ll divide the money among all the claimants. We will pay you less than $125, perhaps much less.
You’re about to get screwed.
Stop freaking lying
This lie is not by Equifax. The “Settlement Administrator” maintains the web site, not Equifax.
But when you’re delivering meager compensation for exposing vast amounts of information of people who never volunteered to be tracked in the credit system, those people deserve an honest answer. Not still more lies.
Shame on Equifax and shame on the lawyers who sued it. We deserve better.
Opt for the ten years of credit monitoring rather than the $125. Because, like all easy money, you won’t actually see it.