Consumers rushing to collect $125 (£103) in compensation from Equifax after a major data breach could be disappointed, US regulators have warned.

The credit referencing agency, which lost the details of 147 million people in 2017, had reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of $700m (£577m).

Up to $425m (£350m) of this is being put into funding credit monitoring services for victims – but $31m (£25.6m) cash has also been put aside for affected customers who already have credit monitoring.

Close-up of the hand of a man holding a mobile phone open to the web site of credit bureau Equifax, with text on the website reading "Equifax Cybersecurity Incident", providing steps for consumers to take following a security breach at the company, San Ramon, California, September 28, 2017. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Equifax lost 147 million people’s details in 2017

There were plans to award $125 (£103) to those who chose the latter option, but the FTC has warned that an overwhelming public response to the settlement means that the $31m likely won’t be enough to go round.

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As a result, the amount each person gets will drop as the pool of money is distributed proportionally.

In a warning published on Wednesday, the FTC urged eligible claimants to apply for credit monitoring instead.

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“Because the amount of money set aside for the cash payment option is capped at $31m (£25m) consumers who select that option may not receive the $125 (£103) they had expected,” the regulator added.

Only consumers in the US are able to claim the compensation from Equifax.

Some could be eligible for compensation of up to $20,000 (£16,500) if they can prove that they were defrauded as a result of the data breach.

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An estimated 15 million people in the UK were affected – equivalent to just under a quarter of the entire population.

Equifax was fined £500,000 by the UK’s data regulator the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over the breach.

The ICO slammed the company for failing to pay attention to a “critical vulnerability” warning it had been issued two months before the hack by the US Department of Homeland Security.



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