Skip to main content

Why you probably won’t actually get $125 from the Equifax settlement

Why you probably won’t actually get $125 from the Equifax settlement


The more people sign up, the less money there is

Share this story

Twenty Dollar Bills Are Printed At The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

If you’re anything like me, you took off like a shot the moment you heard Equifax would pay you $125 just for filling out a simple form. Perhaps you even considered it a reasonable stab at compensation for the fact that the 2017 data breach exposed the personal information of 147 million Americans.

But the likelihood that you’ll actually get a check for $125 is increasingly slim — because the more people who sign up, the less money each person gets. In fact, there’s only room for 248,000 people to get that amount.

If 1 million people ask for the money, they’ll be eligible for just $31 each.

If every single one of the 147 million affected people sign up, they’ll be looking at 21 cents.

See, while Equifax has agreed to a $700 million settlement — compare to its revenue of $880 million last quarter alone — it’s technically only a $425 million settlement as far as affected consumers are concerned, with the rest of the money going to pay penalties.

And of that $425 million, it turns out only a paltry $31 million is actually set aside for those individual $125 cash payments — the rest is all for free credit monitoring, reimbursements, or if you could somehow miraculously prove you actually suffered identity theft as a result of the breach.

As developer Rufo Sanchez notes on Twitter, the fine print shows that after $31 million worth of people sign up for those $125 checks... they won’t actually be $125 anymore.

(You can read the original legalese on page 36 of this PDF if you’re curious.)

Proportionally reduced payments aren’t totally unusual for big class-action settlements. I’ve gotten checks in the mail where it wasn’t worth making a trip to the bank to actually cash it in.

Mind you, there’s also a ridiculously slim chance that you could get more than $125, since it also works the other way — if there’s extra funds because, say, fewer than 248,000 people submit a claim, the rules say each person will get that much more money, too.

But I doubt it, considering how far and fast the get-$125-quick news has spread. AOC’s tweet above already has 39,000 likes after just three hours. Her tweet alone might mean a seventh of those $125 checks are already spoken for.

If you want to try anyhow — can’t blame you! — find our instructions here. We won’t know how much you’ll really get till January of next year.