Presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants the Federal Trade Commission’s inspector general to open an investigation into the agency after it announced that victims of the Equifax data breach will get “nowhere near” the $125 compensation package originally advertised.
“The FTC has the authority to investigate and protect the public from unfair or deceptive acts or practices, including deceptive advertising,” Warren wrote to Andrew Katsaros, the agency watchdog, in a letter dated Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, it appears as though the agency itself may have misled the American public about the terms of the Equifax settlement and their ability to obtain the full reimbursement to which they are entitled,” she wrote.
The FTC announced last month that Equifax agreed to pay up to $700 million to settle a range of government claims against it for the 2017 breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 1 in 2 Americans.
The settlement required the company to provide free credit monitoring to every individual affected by the breach, or compensation of “up to” $125 each for those who opted out. To fund the compensation package, the settlement created a $31 million fund.
Warren notes that fund “would pay exactly 248,000 individuals” the full $125, “less than 1% of the 145 million individuals affected by the breach.”
According to the FTC, millions of people visited the settlement website in just the first week.
Under the terms of the settlement, if more than 248,000 people sought compensation, the amount paid to each individual would be reduced.
“There’s apparently a run on settlements so there’s anxiety people are going to get 16 cent checks,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., wrote in a July 26 post on Twitter, warning her followers to select the free credit monitoring. The New York congresswoman had originally advised her followers to “go get your check from Equifax! $125 is a nice chunk of change.”