Credit company’s laxness jacked up my info; I got a lousy 5 bucks
Equifax’s financial mea culpa arrived in my mailbox the other day. I eagerly tore open the envelope the credit reporting firm sent me.
Would the check be a cool $125, as the feds originally touted in helping reach the class-action settlement? Or, given the humongous number of claimants, something much, much less?
The company’s inattention to detail led to a massive data hack in 2017. The intrusion compromised the personal data of 147 million people – nearly half the U.S. population.
I had to file a claim and keep abreast of developments. It took several years for the payouts to start.
In 2019, then-Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said that, despite knowing about a key vulnerability in its software, Equifax didn’t fully patch its system or replace software that monitored its network for suspicious activity.
I was among 4 million Virginians affected. Our names, birthdates and Social Security numbers were imperiled, though Equifax still says there’s no proof the data “has been sold or used.”
Would the settlement check let me go on a mini-shopping spree? Or could I barely afford a combo meal?
Drum roll: It was a measly $5.21.
Class-action lawsuits like this one, with millions of plaintiffs, usually mean individuals receive negligible amounts. Besides, the lawyers representing the class get a major cut.
A $425 million consumer restitution fund was established as part of the Equifax settlement, but the “fine print” said just $31 million was being used for reimbursements. If more than 248,000 people submitted claims – a tiny percentage of 147 million – payments would be lower than $125 to each person. Folks could opt for free credit monitoring instead.
I tried reaching Kenneth Canfield in Atlanta and Norman Siegel in Kansas City, two of the attorneys representing consumers as part of “class counsel.” I wanted to know, in part, how much they received. Neither responded to my messages by Tuesday afternoon.
A legal website noted plaintiffs’ counsel often “receives 25 to 33 percent of the amount of damages as their attorney fees.”
A spokeswoman for Equifax directed me to a company statement on the disbursements and the settlement administrator’s website.
You bet I’m cashing the check.
And cursing Equifax for its cavalier and cheap response to data security.
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