Last week, Equifax announced that if you were impacted by the unprecedented Equifax hack back in 2017 – along with 147 million of your closest friends – you were eligible to file for a claim of $125 or get free credit monitoring.
This week, that changed.
Juliana Gruenwald is a spokesperson with the FTC. She told FOX13 that consumers were entitled to "up to" $125, and that was originally meant to pay for alternative credit monitoring. Gruenwald said it was never intended as a "cash payment."
In the first week alone, Equifax reports millions of people visited the site to file for that $125. They said the public response to the settlement was "overwhelming."
Download the FOX13 Memphis app to receive alerts from breaking news in your neighborhood.
Gruenwald said the main focus for consumers was the credit monitoring product, because it was viewed as the best source of future protection from identity theft.
"The option to obtain reimbursement for alternative credit monitoring, as set forth originally in the class action settlement, was never intended to be a cash payout for all affected customers," she said.
FOX13 asked if there's still an option for people to get paid for the hourly work they had to do to resolve their credit issues.
Equifax originally said they'd pay people up to $25/hour up to 20 hours' worth of work. Gruenwald said there's a separate pool also set at $31 million for consumers to seek for their time they spent responding to the breach.
"This money is coming from the $300 million that Equifax agreed to pay to a consumer fund that is primarily being used to provide affected consumers with free credit monitoring, and also to 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," Gruenwald said. "Equifax will add up to $125 million to that fund if the initial payment is not enough to compensate consumers for their losses."
Additionally, she said the consumer fund is also paying for the separate $31 million pool for consumers who wanted to seek the up-to-$125 to pay for alternative credit monitoring. Gruenwald reinforced that this "up-to-$125" is intended to pay for alternative credit monitoring and not intended as a cash payment.
People at the FTC told FOX13 the credit monitoring is worth a lot more than the cash reimbursement alternative, anyways.
They said the market value of that option is "hundreds of dollars a year."
© 2019 Cox Media Group.