In the wake of Equifax’s massive “entirely preventable” 2017 data breach that exposed the sensitive personal information of nearly 150 million people, the company agreed to pay nearly $700 million in fines and restitution for the aggravation of having your social security number, birth date, and address potentially up for sale on the dark web.
According to Equifax’s own website, victims of the breach are entitled to a cash payment of $125 for credit monitoring services. However, because this is Equifax, things aren’t quite as they seem. Yes, Equifax is ponying up $700 million, but a good chunk of that is going to the government as a fine, and only about $425 million is going to assist the people affected by the data breach. Victims of the breach will have the option of either credit monitoring from Equifax or a cash payment of $125 for credit monitoring, but as Time points out, when you dig into the details about the program, only $31 million in settlement will go to consumers who choose to receive a payout.
So what happens if there is more than $31 million in claims? According to the FAQ section on Equifax’s website: “All payments for time spent will be reduced and distributed on a proportional basis.”
While I can feel my middle-school math teacher cringing as I write this, allow me to do some math: If you divide the $31 million pool by $125, it appears that only 248,000 people will receive what is known as Alternative Reimbursement Compensation. It’s unclear what recourse or restitution the remaining 145.75 million people will have.
That said, victims of the data breach (find out if you’re one here) who can prove that Equifax’s screwup led to identity theft will have access to other funds. However, as CNBC reports, it can be difficult to link identity theft to a specific data breach, and it seems highly unlikely that Equifax will make it easy.
If you’re feeling lucky about your chances of getting some compensation, you can file a claim on Equifax’s data breach settlement website until January 22, 2020.