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Equifax data breach: Pick free credit monitoring

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Just last week, the FTC and others reached a settlement with Equifax about its September 2017 data breach that exposed personal information of 147 million people. We’ve told you to go to, where you can find out if your information was exposed and learn how to file a claim with the company in charge of the claims process.

The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming, and we’re delighted that millions of people have visited and gone on to the settlement website’s claims form.

But there’s a downside to this unexpected number of claims. First, though, the good: all 147 million people can ask for and get free credit monitoring. There’s also the option for people who certify that they already have credit monitoring to claim up to $125 instead. But the pot of money that pays for that part of the settlement is $31 million. 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. Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.

So, if you haven’t submitted your claim yet, think about opting for the free credit monitoring instead. Frankly, the free credit monitoring is worth a lot more – the market value would be hundreds of dollars a year. And this monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than any you may have already, because it monitors your credit report at all three nationwide credit reporting agencies, and it comes with up to $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services.

For those who have already submitted claims for this cash payment, look for an email from the settlement administrator. They’ll be asking you for the name of the credit monitoring service you already have. Or, if you want to change your mind, you’ll have a chance to switch to the free credit monitoring. The email from the settlement administrator will tell you what to do next, in either case. And the settlement administrator has said that the claims website will soon be updated with that information, too.

Please also note that there is still money available under the settlement to reimburse people for what they paid out of their pocket to recover from the breach. Say you had to pay for your own credit freezes after the breach, or you hired someone to help you deal with identity theft. The settlement has a larger pool of money for just those people. If you’re one of them, use your documents to submit your claim.

This blog post was clarified on August 1, 2019.


Aw nah. Yall trippin. The sheet I printed didn't say "You will get up to $125" it said "You will get $125". Equifax owes us brand new identities and that's worth more than $125.

Why don't you go back to the Court and have Equifax put more money into the settlement fund? That's not impossible.

Better yet, why doesn't the federal government and the states terminate Equifax as a company. There is no reason for the company to exist.

Is this settlement appealable? It is clearly insufficient.

Most of us don't need credit monitoring because we have it already from other breaches. There is no value in having 12 separate credit monitoring services. The FTC should consider if they are really acting in the interest of victims or Equifax. Equifax had 3.1 Billion in annual revenue and yet only 30 million is available for victims?

Really? Really? Really!

What is wrong with you people? Free credit monitoring (which you can get from hundreds of services) from the company that allowed it to happen in the first place?

FAQ #8 states that Settlement Class Members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost. Go to to learn more.

please clarify which Experian product will be used for the free credit monitoring. The PLUS or PREMIUM version???

Read the FAQ on the settlement website ( for information about the credit monitoring.

I chose the free credit monitoring option-my questions is how do I know when it goes into effect? Is Equifax supposed to notify me? I am hesitant to cancel my paid credit monitoring service until I know the Equifax option is in effect.

Frequently Asked Question #19 on the settlement website ( says if you make a valid claim for credit monitoring services, the Settlement Administrator will send you information about how to activate your credit monitoring after the settlement is final. The earliest the settlement will be final is January 23, 2020.

The Settlement Administrator will send you an activation code and link to the Experian website. You can enroll and activate your credit monitoring services on the Experian website.

If you enroll in three-bureau credit monitoring services from Experian, you can also choose to enroll in up to six years of one-bureau credit monitoring services from Equifax that would start after the Experian services end. You must choose the one-bureau Equifax services when you make your claim for credit monitoring services. If you choose to get the Equifax services after the three-bureau services end, you will get instructions for how to enroll in the one-bureau Equifax services before the three-bureau  services end.

When I'm already utilizing the services of two credit monitoring services as a result of previous data breaches (looking at you OPM) and will be awaiting yet another offer of credit monitoring from Capital One, I'm sure you will understand how total worthless this offer from Equifax truly is and how abysmally ridiculous the settlement offer was.

I’ve gone onto all the sites recommended and still can’t fund where I sign up for free credit monitoring. After providing the 6 numbers of my SSN, was told I wasn’t impacted. Oh, really? All four of my credit cards have been hacked 2-4 times so far.

This is a freaking joke. Equifax exposed sensitive data of over half the country's populace - I certainly won't trust their credit monitoring service. I have no desire to do any business with them, period. This is the kind of thing that SHOULD kill a company.

That is not right what about the people like me who already has credit monitoring through Equifax! I am already paying for a family plan which is nearly $30 dollars a month? There would be nothing for me to opt into unless my money would get reimbursed back to me and that would sum up over the $125 payment. Not right at all make it even worse I already have a freeze on my credit with all of the Credit bureaus and I have a lock on all of the social securities in my house hold. Does not make sense am I the only person who can see something wrong with this?

The FTC information at explains that if your information was exposed in the Equifax breach, you can file a claim for cash payments for expenses you paid as a result of the breach and time you spent dealing with the breach.

You can file a claim for expenses like the cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report and the cost of credit monitoring. Your claim for the cost of Equifax credit monitoring and related services you had between September 7, 2016, and September 7, 2017, is capped at 25 percent of the total amount you paid. Learn more at

Sure they will monitor my credit, but how many months will it take for them to inform me if there is an issue? It took them months just to figure out there was a breach. I have no trust in Equifax. Just give me the $125 so I can be done with them.

As other commenters pointed out, it looks like FTC failed consumers in agreeing to only a $31 million “Alternative Reimbursement Compensation Cap.” Free credit monitoring isn’t “worth a lot more” when so many financial service companies already provide it in banking and credit card accounts.

Glad to see FTC and CFPB at least still have the lights on, but is anybody home? (FTC, there’s no need to provide links to the same websites over again in response.)

Why would any American/Canadian affected by the breach accept free credit monitoring from Equifax who let this happen due to outdated systems? They have zero credibility! All I want is their money for allowing this to happen which is their main job. They can keep their WORTHLESS credit monitoring! How ironic! Ask me, close the place and have just Experian and TransUnion who never had his happen to 1/2 of American adults!

Under the settlement, you can request four years of free, three-bureau  credit monitoring from Experian.

Equifax will pay $300 million into a fund that will pay Experian to provide the four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services. If you request four years of Experian monitoring, you can also request six additional years of one-bureau monitoring by Equifax. There are other benefits for people whose information was exposed in the breach. Learn more at and

Why was my comment not posted? Is the FTC practicing censorship? I simply said why is it that the attorneys are getting paid, the government is getting paid but the people who were harmed aren’t?

This is stupid. Free credit monitoring will be bureaucratic and ineffective. If the credit monitoring has problems or is ineffective, I can't complain because it's free. I already have PAID credit monitoring and frozen credit. Stop offering us useless garbage!!!!!

You are asking people to take free credit monitoring, and saying it is "probably better than what they already have". Have you considered the backlash from those companies people are already buying monitoring from? You are asking them to leave a company they have been with, and saying the company they are with is probably not that "good"....think about that. Not a smart thing to say. Maybe Equifax should not have been let off so easily, most people I know already have credit monitoring.

How can I request that Equifax completely delete my personal information?

They reply yo every post but where is the reply to THIS?? How can we stop these companies from having our information in the first place? I dont want random c com companies with access to my SS#. No one should be allowed access to this without my consent and worse if they screw with it 125.00 isn't how much they should be charged.

Two federal laws cover different aspects of how companies can share your financial information: the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). Read the FTC article Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information to learn what you can do about information sharing.

I have 2 credit monitoring items FREE from my credit card companies. It sucks that just because you can't do your job well we get the short end of the stick.

$31 million divided 147 million ways works out to... almost $0.25/person. Who negotiated this settlement? Between the endless parade of data-breaches, and so many financial services companies throwing it in as a freebie promotional item, most of those affected already have credit monitoring so obviously few people were going to take that option.

Also "All three nationwide credit reporting agencies" and "$1 million in identity theft insurance" are bare-minimum features of every credit monitoring service on the market. This is not some special beefed-up service we're being offered, it's an exact duplicate of what everyone already has.

Very poor job FTC. Equifax should have been forced to disband and the CEO should be held personally liable.

The FTC mislead consumers regarding the settlement. I no longer want to be part of the settlement. I demand an opt out option since I was provided incomplete information to sign up. As far as the monitoring, I already have monitoring because of prior data breaches. The FTC should be ashamed of its shady dealings.

Where can I get more information about the " $1 million in identity theft insurance and individualized identity restoration services"? What do the insurance and services cover? Who is offering them? How long do I get them?

I note that the settlement site currently doesn't even mention these supposed features when describing the cash vs. monitoring options.

The settlement website is

Go to the FAQs (frequently asked questions) to learn about the identity theft insurance (FAQ #8) and free identity restoration services (FAQ #11).

The settlement website also has a link to important documents, including the full settlement agreement.

Bridget, when will everyone receive a notice that they were hacked, i.e. from Equifax/FTC/Court?...the consumer does not have the legal duty to inquire. Or, stated otherwise, the info must be available since the class must confirm if someone is in/out of it....thus I and others wait affirmative notice! And the answer is?

If you don't know if you were affected by the 2017 Equifax breach, use this look-up tool to see if your information was exposed. If you were affected, learn more about what you could claim at

Why do we have to give up some of our info to see if the info they have on us was exposed? Isn't that there obligation? Hello, anyone there?

The "free credit monitoring" is literally worth NOTHING, because you can already get it for free through other companies like Credit Karma.

its like someone giving you a free "phone book"

what a scam.

The incompetence of the FTC blares across America's media. We don't need free credit monitoring, we have four of them already due to other breaches.

Since you didn't demand prison for the executive team, you needed to extract $5-10 Billion from this evil company.

Our government bureaucrats failed our citizens once again.

There is an individual obligation to notify a person when s/he was hacked. Why doesn’t the FTC enforce it. There is no reason for a consumer to “go see if they are affected!” The initial obligation is with Equifax and for FTC to enforce!

As my choice of option for the Equifax data breach, I signed up for the free credit monitoring... do I actually get access to the monitoring service so I can check things out for myself? Am I automatically registered through Experian or am I waiting on a specific email with a link to Experian to register or something? I haven't seen or heard anything about it. Not sure if there was supposed to be a confirmation screen or anything after I did the initial sign up because my browser froze up after I submitted my form.

Frequently Asked Question #19 on the settlement website says if you make a valid claim for credit monitoring services, the Settlement Administrator will send you information about how to activate your credit monitoring after the settlement is final. The settlement will be final on January 23, 2020 at the earliest.

The Settlement Administrator will provide you with an activation code and link to the Experian website where you can enroll and activate your credit monitoring services.

I prefer not to use Equifax credit monitoring service. That is the fox guarding the hen house. I prefer to pay Experian.

FAQ #8 on the settlement website says settlement class members may submit a claim to enroll in at least four years of three-bureau credit monitoring services, provided by Experian, at no cost. Go to to learn what benefits an affected person can file a claim for, including:

  • free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services
  • cash payments capped at $20,000 per person for expenses you paid as a result of the breach and time you spent dealing with the breach

Hi: Based on the FTC's failure to anticipate that most affected individuals would rationally choose cash over credit monitoring services (which I for one already have because of OPM's failures), could the FTC explain in detail its reasons for believing 31 million dollars was adequate to cover this particular claim? Thanks.

I already have free credit monitoring from another data breach. Thumbs down to the FTC for negotiating a weak settlement that offers little if any meaningful compensation to the millions harmed by Equifax’s egregious negligence, then misleading the public about the terms!

Where is the rest of the 700 million dollars going?

Read the FTC press release for details about the proposed settlement agreement, including:

  • Equifax Inc. agreed to pay at least $575 million, and potentially up to $700 million, as part of a global settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and 50 U.S. states and territories
  • As part of the proposed settlement, Equifax will pay $300 million to a fund that will provide affected consumers with credit monitoring services. The fund will also compensate consumers who bought credit or identity monitoring services from Equifax and paid other out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the 2017 data breach.  Equifax will add up to $125 million to the fund if the initial payment is not enough to compensate consumers for their losses
  • The company also has agreed to pay $175 million to 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as $100 million to the CFPB in civil penalties.

Dear FTC,
This is ridiculous. Equifax should provide ten(10) years of Identify monitoring to every single one of the people who are at risk for free, and a check for $125 as an apology. If they do not agree to this, then they should close down.

I already have credit monitoring from the other two companies and the US OPM all of whom lost my data. What good would a third be? There should be rethink of the limit on the settlement. This needs to be a company ending event for Equifax.

Why would I want the company that is responsible for the breach in my privacy, security, and data to monitor my credit for me? They are the reason I am in this mess, because they systematically built a profile of highly sensitive personal information (to profit from) and then allowed others to steal it.

shouldn't equifax have been paying a monitoring agency all along to monitor our personal information ? or monitoring it themselves
? and how do we know if the company hired to monitor my credit for 4 years is trustworthy, has ever prevented id theft even once, and/ or won't have a data breach themselves???

I, like many others, have credit monitoring already. Indeed I have some provided 'free' following multiple other breaches. Perhaps if this was the first large scale situation like this the credit monitoring would be more enticing but you and everyone else knows that is the typical easy way out for companies to offer after they expose our information.

The overwhelming response demonstrates the scale of the breach and the consumers impacted and should not be a surprise to anyone, least of all those involved in creating this settlement. Frankly as Equifax is responsible for the breach, anyone impacted by it should have access to choose the cash option if they wish. 125$ is chump change to a corporation as large as this, and the should pay for the fact that the information was leaked in the first place. Seems more to me like someone made a miscalculation or rather a cynical calculation that none of us in the public are really paying attention and thus the number filing claims would be smaller.

This kind of weak and non-consumer oriented response to repeated incompetence demonstrated by many corporations is a large contributing factor to why so many of us 'average' citizens feel absolutely cynical about most aspects of public and private life. If I exposed data in my professional career, it would be proportionally a whole different story to what wealthy influential companies are able to get away with. It's just not fair.


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