Claiming your $125 from Equifax is a "moral duty"

By Cory Doctorow

If you fill in this form, Equifax will send you $125 as part of its settlement with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the FTC, and 48 out of 50 states.

Equifax doxed the nation and profited handsomely from it. $125 is a laughably small sum given how much damage the data they hemorrhaged all over the internet could cause you. Equifax should have faced the corporate death penalty, the execs who oversaw the disaster should have had their assets seized and diverted to anti-identity-theft measures and charities.

Instead, the FTC et al are hitting the company for a maximum of $700m (how much they pay depends in part on whether you fill in this form. Equifax's market cap stands today at $16.6B, and it posted $3.412B in earnings in 2018, up 1.48% increase from 2017.

As meaningless as the $125 is, as piddling as the $700m is, you should still do this. As Josephine Wolff writes for Slate, breaches should be as expensive as possible. Anything you can do to make them more expensive will help people inside companies who are arguing against data-collection and retention, making the world safer for everyone else. Anything you can do to make breaches more expensive will hit the share price of companies that overcollect our data.

Go on, do it.

You may be thinking, But I don’t want to give Equifax the last six digits of my Social Security number and my birthdate and mailing address after it’s demonstrated just how much it can’t be trusted! Believe me, the company already knows all that information—and so much more. But it’s so much work to fill out the entire form! It’s really not, unless you want to claim additional lost time or expenses beyond the base $125 payout, in which case you have to submit a description of the time you lost or receipts for any identity protection services or other security purchases you made in the aftermath of the breach.

If, for instance, you went ahead and purchased LifeLock or some other credit monitoring service after the Equifax breach, go ahead and submit that receipt too. Each individual is eligible to receive up to $20,000 as part of the settlement; $125 is just the amount you can receive without having to do any extra work or claim any extra losses. The settlement also includes provisions to reimburse you for your lost time at a rate of $25 per hour. If you spent hours on the phone trying to clear up suspicious credit activity or figure out whether you had been affected, go ahead and submit that as well. One of the notable things about this claims process, in fact, is its recognition of the fact that people lose time dealing with these incidents and that time is, in itself, valuable to them.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/07/equifax-settlement-money-how-to-claim.html [Josephine Wolff/Slate]

(via JWZ)

(Image: Jeremy Thompson, CC-BY, modified)