If you are among the 147 million Americans who had their credit data exposed by the 2017 Equifax breach, the deadline to file a claim is approaching quickly.
In 2017, Equifax, one of three major credit reporting bureaus, had its database breached, exposing millions of names, addresses, birthdays and Social Security numbers. This opened up millions of Americans to the possibility of identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission ordered Equifax to pay $700 million in individual compensation and civil penalties, the largest settlement ever to be paid for a data breach. Equifax also had to pay $275 million in civil penalties and other compensation to 48 states, Washington, Puerto Rico and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the company was ordered to change how it handles private user data.
If you had your personal data exposed, you are entitled to 10 years of free credit monitoring, or you can choose to receive a $125 payout. However, the FTC requires users to verify their claim by proving they had a credit monitoring service in place at the time they filed for a claim and that it would remain in place for six months after filing.
People that had to spend time and money to recover from the breach may be able to claim up to $20,000, if they can prove that they took a hit above $125.
Unfortunately, if you already filed a claim for the $125 payout or plan to before the deadline, don’t expect to get much. Only $31 million of the settlement money will be used for the payouts, which could shrink that $125 payout considerably depending on how many people filed for a claim.
The FTC has urged consumers to choose the free credit monitoring instead of opting for the cash payout.
“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,” said Robert Schoshinski, assistant director for the FTC’s division of privacy and identity protection. “Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”
CNN’s Ryan Prior, Victoria Cavaliere, Brian Fung and Clare Duffy contributed to this report.