That $125 payment from Equifax? You shouldn't count on it

By Aimee Picchi

/ MoneyWatch

Are you eligible for Equifax payout funds?

With the Equifax settlement reached this week, consumers have the chance to receive $125 in cash, prompting even Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to urge victims to "get your check from Equifax!" But the reality may not be as remunerative as she and others believe.

The $125 cash payment comes with several major strings attached. For one, it's only available to people who already have credit-monitoring services, which typically cost between $10 to $30 a month. On top of that, you'll have to provide proof you will continue to use the service for the next six months.

Everyone: go get your check from Equifax!

$125 is a nice chunk of change.

Get that money and pay off a bill, sock it away, take a day off, treat yourself, whatever you’d like – but cash 👏🏿 that 👏🏽 check! 👏🏻

💸 It takes one minute. Do it here 💸: https://t.co/sy7eZCuLi6 https://t.co/OdgYrlJZbh

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 26, 2019

But the biggest gotcha might be a small detail that's been overlooked by many consumers eager to bank an extra $125: The pool of money to fund the payments is topped at $31 million. If the claims exceed that amount, the per person payout "will be lowered and distributed on a proportional basis," the settlement site's FAQs notes.

Trending News

In other words, if more than 248,000 people make claims on the $31 million pot of money, the per person payout will be less than $125. If all 148 million victims claimed the award, the payout would be lowered to 21 cents per person.

"I would caution folks it's not $125 free money," said Charity Lacey, vice president of communications at the Identity Theft Resource Center. "You have to prove you have credit monitoring in place and it will be active for the next 6 months."

Plus, she added, "If you don't provide the proof, you may not get the $125. Or you may get a portion of it," depending on how many people claim.

Credit monitoring: Worth it?

Consumers impacted by the data breach may receive up to 10 years of free monitoring of their credit reports. You can also sign up for at least four years of monitoring services provided by Experian at no cost.

Consumers who don't already have credit monitoring services — which in some cases are provided to consumers through their insurance or employers — may want to consider this option rather than claiming the $125 that may or may not arrive, Lacey noted. Keeping a close eye on your accounts can help forestall identity theft and catch problems before they grow into costly hassles, which may be more valuable in the long-term than up to $125 in immediate cash.

Equifax to pay up to $700 million for 2017 data breach

But a free option that will help secure your data and your identity is to place a credit freeze at the major credit bureaus, noted Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

"A credit freeze stops thieves from opening new accounts in your name," Velasquez said. "I think there is still this misconception that it's a very long and arduous process and that it's difficult to navigate."

The credit bureaus have made it an easier process, she added, noting that consumers report it requires about an hour to set up freezes at all three bureaus.

Here are the links to where you can freeze your credit at the three credit-reporting agencies:

Velasquez also recommends parents set up credit freezes for their children, which requires extra documentation, such as verification that you are the child's parent or guardian, that must be mailed to each of the credit bureaus.

"Kids' Social Security numbers aren't gold — they are diamond. They are so valuable to fraudsters," she said. "It's one more thing that we have to care of on behalf of our children."

First published on July 30, 2019 / 5:30 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

That $125 payment from Equifax? Don't count on it

The settlement payment comes with major strings, including one that could lower final payouts to just 21 cents per person

10M ago gettyimages-956437954.jpg Boeing 737 MAX 8

Consumers could see higher fares because of Boeing 737 woes

Global grounding of the aircraft is rippling through the travel sector and even denting the U.S. economy

58M ago Boeing 737 MAX 8 Election 2018 Mississippi

CBS News Eye on Trends: The latest from the CBS News Election & Survey Unit

A recap of latest polls and data-driven studies from the CBS News Election & Survey Unit

1H ago Election 2018 Mississippi donald-trump-china-flag.jpg

Trump's China trade tweets dampen already low expectations for talks

Mr. Trump claimed China is "praying" for him to lose in 2020 as stalled trade and tariff talks resume in Shanghai

1H ago donald-trump-china-flag.jpg American Bison Bull - Genetically Pure Specimen

17-year-old girl gored by bison in North Dakota

The bison were on either side of the trail when the 17-year-old walked between them, park officials say

2H ago American Bison Bull - Genetically Pure Specimen Election 2018 Mississippi

CBS News Eye on Trends: The latest from the CBS News Election & Survey Unit

A recap of latest polls and data-driven studies from the CBS News Election & Survey Unit

1H ago Election 2018 Mississippi donald-trump-china-flag.jpg

Trump's China trade tweets dampen already low expectations for talks

Mr. Trump claimed China is "praying" for him to lose in 2020 as stalled trade and tariff talks resume in Shanghai

1H ago donald-trump-china-flag.jpg US-POLITICS-TRUMP

New law says Trump must release tax returns to be on Calif. primary ballot

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that would demand that presidential candidates disclose five years of federal tax returns to be listed on the state's primary election ballot

1H ago US-POLITICS-TRUMP US-VOTE-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE

Democrats meet in Detroit for second debate — live updates

Ten Democrats running for president will make their pitch on immigration, the economy, abortion rights and more

updated 33M ago US-VOTE-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE paul.jpg

Rand Paul offers to send Ilhan Omar to Somalia

Rep. Ilhan Omar escaped Somalia's civil war as a child with her family

3H ago paul.jpg NKOREA-NUCLEAR-MISSILE

North Korea fires multiple projectiles, South Korea says

South Korean officials said last week's missile launch were a new type of a short-range ballistic missile

6M ago NKOREA-NUCLEAR-MISSILE Justin Trudeau gay bar

Justin Trudeau visits Canadian gay bar

This is not the first time Trudeau has publicly supported Canada's LGBTQ community

14M ago Justin Trudeau gay bar eaotrgrxsaaalg.jpg

Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in 12 hours

The country has a goal of planting 4 billion trees by October and after Monday's effort they're half way there

19M ago eaotrgrxsaaalg.jpg brazil-prison-riot-relatives.png

Relatives identifying victims of deadly prison riot in Brazil

Dozens of relatives of inmates killed during a riot in northern Brazil are gathering at a coroner's office Tuesday

1H ago brazil-prison-riot-relatives.png donald-trump-china-flag.jpg

Trump's China trade tweets dampen already low expectations for talks

Mr. Trump claimed China is "praying" for him to lose in 2020 as stalled trade and tariff talks resume in Shanghai

1H ago donald-trump-china-flag.jpg royalbay-archie.jpg

Prince Harry wants only 2 kids out of concern for the planet

"Two, maximum!" Prince Harry told Jane Goodall during a conversation about the future of the planet

2H ago royalbay-archie.jpg screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png

Cardi B and Bernie Sanders meet to talk politics

Cardi B has often shared her love for American history and politics – and the urgency of getting young people to participate in the 2020 presidential election

4H ago screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png 3

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Jun 24 30 photos 3 A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky pleads not guilty to assault in Sweden

American rapper is accused of attacking a man on a Stockholm street, and even before the trial began he was backed by President Trump

2H ago A$AP Rocky Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X breaks Billboard record with "Old Town Road"

Breakthrough rapper's viral song "Old Town Road" overtook the Billboard record set by Mariah Carey's "One Sweet Day​" for most weeks at No. 1

Jul 29 Lil Nas X gettyimages-956437954.jpg

That $125 payment from Equifax? Don't count on it

The settlement payment comes with major strings, including one that could lower final payouts to just 21 cents per person

10M ago gettyimages-956437954.jpg FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. offices are pictured in Atlanta

Con artists already running fake Equifax settlement websites

Determining if you're among the 147 million Americans entitled to compensation for 2017 breach takes only seconds

5H ago FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. offices are pictured in Atlanta Capital One Bank

Have a Capital One credit card? Take these 5 steps

If you're a Capital One customer, consider adding extra levels of security to keep scammers from misusing your data

updated 5M ago Capital One Bank computer.jpg

Capital One data breach hits more than 100 million people

The hacker got information including credit scores and balances plus the Social Security numbers of about 140,000 customers

3H ago computer.jpg HONG KONG-UBER-TAXI-COURT

Uber lays off 400 people from its marketing team

Ride-hailing company blames its losses partly on costly promotions to attract riders and drivers

Jul 29 HONG KONG-UBER-TAXI-COURT siberia-wildfire-russia.jpg

Vast wildfires in Siberia a potential "disaster" for global climate

"The more fires affect the climate, the more conditions are created for new dangerous fires," environmental activist warns

6H ago siberia-wildfire-russia.jpg Nebraska man finds 2.12 carat diamond at Arkansas state park

Nebraska man finds 2.12 carat diamond at state park

John Lanik discovered the largest diamond found in the state park this year

20H ago Nebraska man finds 2.12 carat diamond at Arkansas state park perseids in night time

Double meteor showers will light up the sky tonight

The dueling showers will bring up to 25 meteors per hour

Jul 29 perseids in night time california-condor-409-zion-national-park-promo.jpg

Nature up close: Rescuing the California condor

Almost 40 years ago there were 22 birds left; today the species' population has increased dramatically

Jul 28 california-condor-409-zion-national-park-promo.jpg 0727-ctm-lasvegasgrasshoppers-1899263-640x360.jpg

Swarms of grasshoppers invade Vegas: "It was crazy"

A migration of mild-mannered grasshoppers sweeping through the Las Vegas area is being attributed to wet weather several months ago

Jul 27 0727-ctm-lasvegasgrasshoppers-1899263-640x360.jpg salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg

Biggest source of salmonella outbreaks? It's clucking in U.S. backyards

Raising poultry at home is the leading cause of sickness from salmonella, far exceeding infections from pre-cut melons

4H ago salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg d3-nod-farmers-neighbors-072919en-frame-13.jpg

Farmers harvest crop for neighbor battling cancer

The neighbors did three weeks worth of work in just six hours

22H ago d3-nod-farmers-neighbors-072919en-frame-13.jpg b3-lenghi-hot-car-death-072919en-cut-2-frame-861.jpg

Death of 1-year-old twins puts spotlight on hot car dangers

Father Juan Rodriguez is facing manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges in the deaths of his son and daughter

22H ago b3-lenghi-hot-car-death-072919en-cut-2-frame-861.jpg Modern building hallway, unfocused background

Nurse says people should be "scared" by private equity firms

Philadelphia's 171-year-old Hahnemann Hospital was sold to a private equity firm — now it may become luxury condos

Jul 29 Modern building hallway, unfocused background ctm-clean-8am-cr470c-20190729-frame-30651.jpg

Research links widely-used drugs to a nearly 50% higher risk of dementia

An estimated 1 in 4 older adults take anticholinergic drugs

Jul 29 ctm-clean-8am-cr470c-20190729-frame-30651.jpg gettyimages-956437954.jpg

That $125 payment from Equifax? Don't count on it

The settlement payment comes with major strings, including one that could lower final payouts to just 21 cents per person

10M ago gettyimages-956437954.jpg Boeing 737 MAX 8

Consumers could see higher fares because of Boeing 737 woes

Global grounding of the aircraft is rippling through the travel sector and even denting the U.S. economy

58M ago Boeing 737 MAX 8 donald-trump-china-flag.jpg

Trump's China trade tweets dampen already low expectations for talks

Mr. Trump claimed China is "praying" for him to lose in 2020 as stalled trade and tariff talks resume in Shanghai

1H ago donald-trump-china-flag.jpg dahler-cape-cod-shark-attack-bulk-rem304-frame-21852.jpg

Sharks bite into Cape Cod summer rental market

Cape Cod shark sightings and new taxes on short-term home rentals keep would-be vacationers at bay this summer season

3H ago dahler-cape-cod-shark-attack-bulk-rem304-frame-21852.jpg salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg

Biggest source of salmonella outbreaks? It's clucking in U.S. backyards

Raising poultry at home is the leading cause of sickness from salmonella, far exceeding infections from pre-cut melons

4H ago salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg brazil-prison-riot-relatives.png

Relatives identifying victims of deadly prison riot in Brazil

Dozens of relatives of inmates killed during a riot in northern Brazil are gathering at a coroner's office Tuesday

1H ago brazil-prison-riot-relatives.png 015-rtr3gd2i.jpg

Boy charged with assault over dodgeball game

Months after the boy was suspended from his elementary school, his mom was notified he received a criminal charge

1H ago 015-rtr3gd2i.jpg 0730-cbsn-mcsallyabouthyten-1901044-640x360.jpg

Sen. Martha McSally defends Gen. Hyten

At Gen. John Hyten's confirmation hearing, Republican Senator Martha McSally, a survivor of military sexual assault, said Hyten was the right man for the job as vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

2H ago 01:24 0730-cbsn-mcsallyabouthyten-1901044-640x360.jpg 0730-cbsn-hytendeniesallegations-1901000-640x360.jpg

Gen. Hyten denies misconduct allegations

At his confirmation hearing, Gen. John Hyten, President Trump's nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, categorically denied the sexual misconduct allegations against him, calling them false.

5H ago 00:26 0730-cbsn-hytendeniesallegations-1901000-640x360.jpg 0730-cbsn-policesearchformotivegilroy-1900994-640x360.jpg

Searching for motive in California shooting

Investigators are still working to determine the motive behind a deadly shooting at a California food festival on Sunday. Officials say Santino William Legan posted at least two photos on Instagram the day of the shooting, including one that referred to a book popular among white nationalist groups. CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas joined CBSN with the latest on the investigation.

5H ago 05:14 0730-cbsn-policesearchformotivegilroy-1900994-640x360.jpg 0430-en-asteroidpractice.jpg

"City killer" asteroid misses Earth – and scientists had no idea

Scientists revealed an asteroid dubbed by some as a "city killer" came closer to the Earth than the moon this week

20H ago 0430-en-asteroidpractice.jpg US-MEXICO-CINCO DE MAYO

New Mexico chiles to be grown in space

The "Española Improved" chile plant will be the first fruiting plant that the U.S. will grow aboard the Space Station

Jul 27 US-MEXICO-CINCO DE MAYO 072719-dragon2.jpg

SpaceX cargo ship reaches space station

SpaceX cargo ship brings 2.5 tons of supplies and equipment to space station

Jul 28 072719-dragon2.jpg cbsn-fusion-spacex-launches-falcon-9-rocket-today-2019-07-25-thumbnail-1898411-640x360.jpg

SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket

Thursday's launch marks SpaceX's 18th cargo run to the International Space Station. The Dragon supply ship atop the Falcon 9 was making its third trip to the lab complex, this time loaded with 5,000 pounds of crew supplies, equipment and high-tech science gear, including a low-tech container of bright green Nickelodeon "slime" for educational outreach. Watch the rocket launch here.

Jul 25 09:29 cbsn-fusion-spacex-launches-falcon-9-rocket-today-2019-07-25-thumbnail-1898411-640x360.jpg spacex-launch-today.png

SpaceX launches supplies — and slime — to space station

SpaceX Dragon cargo ship was loaded with 5,000 pounds of equipment and supplies — including a container of bright green Nickelodeon "slime"

Jul 25 spacex-launch-today.png jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg

The Oddities & Curiosities Expo

A traveling exhibition of gothic and occult art, sideshow performers, and bizarre specimens stopped outside Chicago, where CBS News photographer Jake Barlow took in the odd sights

Jul 22 24 photos jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg gettyimages-486106944.jpg

New York's Central Park

America's first major landscaped public park, the 840-acre park in Manhattan welcomes more than 37 million visitors every year

Jul 21 25 photos gettyimages-486106944.jpg Charles Manson

Manson Family murders: The terrifying story in pictures

A look at the cult slayings that shocked – and scared – America

Jul 3 44 photos Charles Manson star-trek.jpg

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Jun 24 30 photos star-trek.jpg danroy-dj-henry.jpg

Evidence photos from the police shooting of Danroy "DJ" Henry Jr.

Evidence from the scene of Pace University student DJ Henry’s fatal encounter with Officer Aaron Hess in Mount Pleasant, N.Y.

Jun 22 19 photos danroy-dj-henry.jpg wright-911-call-1567128-640x360.jpg

Popular

NBA star's desperate call for help

Listen to former NBA star Lorenzen Wright’s frantic 911 call made on the night in 2010 that he was murdered. Wright was unable to give his name or location as 11 gunshots are heard before the call cuts out. It took days for authorities to learn that it was Wright who made the call.

Jul 27 00:40 wright-911-call-1567128-640x360.jpg wright-murder-plot-1567134-640x360.jpg

The alleged plot to kill Lorenzen Wright

Prosecutor Paul Hagerman reads an affidavit about informant Jimmie Martin who claims he helped plan the murder of Lorenzen Wright. Martin is Sherra Wright’s cousin. Martin claims he wasn’t there the night of the murder, but says he did help clean up the crime scene.

Jul 27 01:37 wright-murder-plot-1567134-640x360.jpg lulu-arrest-1683015-640x360.jpg

Body cam video captures murder-for-hire suspect's arrest

On July 23, 2015, detectives with the Montgomery County Texas Constable's Office arrive at the Houston gym owned by Ramon Sosa and his wife, Lulu, to arrest Lulu on suspicion of plotting her husband's death.

Jul 20 03:29 lulu-arrest-1683015-640x360.jpg leibel-kasian-1674771-640x360.jpg

Sneak peek: Hollywood Horror Story

A wealthy Hollywood producer is accused of murdering his girlfriend. Was he following the plot of his frightening novel? Correspondent Maureen Maher investigates Saturday, July 13 at 10/9c on CBS.

Jul 13 03:37 leibel-kasian-1674771-640x360.jpg kasian-911-call-1674933-640x360.jpg

A mother's desperate 911 call

When Olga Kasian did not hear from her daughter Iana after several days, she began repeatedly calling 911. Concerned about Iana's well-being and her recent C-section, Kasian desperately asks police — through the help of an Russian interpreter — to enter the home her daughter shared with boyfriend Blake Leibel.

Jul 20 01:14 kasian-911-call-1674933-640x360.jpg