This should come as a surprise to no one: Equifax is making hacked consumers wrestle with additional red tape. The firm is asking for more paperwork from consumers who were victimized by the credit bureau’s giant data breach in 2017. The additional red tape seems designed to shrink the ranks of consumers who will receive monetary compensation as the result of a settlement with the firm.
The Equifax settlement provides up to $125 to victims of the breach, or free credit monitoring. Not surprisingly, many consumers opted for the money.
But back when the settlement was announced, the court-appointed claims administrator explained it provided $31 million for this kind of cash claim — a tiny amount compared to the 140 million victims. In fact, it set aside enough funds for only about one-quarter of one million victims to receive $125.
Consumers who filed to get up to $125 from Equifax started receiving emails late last week informing them that they need to re-state their claim by Oct. 15. And this time, they’re going to have to provide evidence of actual costs incurred, such as receipts for enrollment in a paid credit monitoring service. They are also being put on notice that even further requests might be coming at a later step.
Or, they can waive their right to money and switch to four free years of free credit monitoring instead.
“According to our records, you filed a claim for alternative compensation of up to $125 in connection with the Equifax data breach settlement and certified on the claim form that you had some form of credit monitoring or protection in place and will continue to have the credit monitoring in place for a minimum of six months from the date of your claim filing,” the letter reads. “You must either verify or amend your claim by October 15, 2019.”
And then, ominously, it says:
“If you do not, your claim for alternative compensation will be denied.”
When the settlement was first announced, consumers naturally rushed to get in line for what they believed was $125 in compensation. Far more consumers than the expected signed up — not sure who set those expectations — leading the Federal Trade Commission to warn that the payouts might be significantly less than $125. In a blog post, it urged consumers to switch to credit monitoring, to prevent the payout fund from drying up.
That’s clearly the goal of these recent emails, too. Consumers who don’t respond by the deadline lose won’t get any money, and it appears they won’t get any compensation; obviously a certain percentage of recipients will fail to fill out the form. So if you have previously filed for Equifax compensation, watch your email carefully.
There’s more information on what to do at the settlement website.
Want to know more about what really happened at Equifax? Listen to my Breach podcast.