If you want to claim $125 from the Equifax data breach, you have more work to do

A mobile phone open to the web site of credit bureau Equifax, with text on the website reading 'Equifax Cybersecurity Incident', providing steps for consumers to take following a security breach in 2017 that affected 143 million Americans.
Smith Collection/Gado | Archive Photos | Getty Images

If you filed for a cash payout from Equifax as part of the credit bureau's settlement for its massive 2017 data breach, it turns out you now need to do some extra steps to claim your money.

In July, credit bureau Equifax agreed to pay nearly $700 million over its massive 2017 data breach. Under the terms of the settlement, affected consumers could potentially get up to $20,000 in reimbursement. But even if you didn't suffer any direct harm from the breach, you could claim free credit monitoring or a cash payout of up to $125 if you already have credit services in place.

Yet on Sunday, consumers who filed for the $125 cash payout were sent an email with the subject line: "Your Equifax Claim: You Must Act by October 15, 2019 or Your Claim for Alternative Compensation Will Be Denied." Under the new requirements, consumers have two options: verify their claim by providing more information or amend their paperwork to opt for a non-cash settlement.

To verify your claim for a cash payout of up to $125, you need to visit the Equifax settlement website and provide the name of your credit monitoring service that you had in place when you filed your settlement paperwork.

You can also opt to amend your claim and select the free credit monitoring option instead of the cash payout. If you don't want to use Equifax's designated website to update your claim, you can also send the settlement administrator a letter that includes your full name, claim number and zip code at the following address:

In re Equifax Data Breach Settlement

c/o JND Legal Administration

PO Box 91318

Seattle, WA 98111-9418

If you do nothing before Oct. 15, 2019, your claim will be completely rejected.

The extra verification step comes after the Federal Trade Commission announced in late July that because of the high interest in the cash compensation option, consumers who picked the payout may end up getting far less than $125. That's because the money set aside in the settlement for cash compensation is capped at $31 million, so if there's more than 248,000 consumers who pick this option, the total compensation for each will be less.

In fact, the FTC urged consumers to pick the free credit monitoring, saying the service was worth "hundreds of dollars" and comes with identity theft insurance and restoration services.

Sunday's communication from Equifax's settlement administrator means that consumers who filed their claim before the FTC spelled out the consequences of the capped settlement amount now have a second chance to opt for the credit monitoring.

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