Equifax does not Owe You $125—Understanding the Data Breach Settlement

Many reputable news organizations have been freely informing people that Equifax has agreed to pay $125 to everyone affected by the scandalous data breach that they attempted to ignore/cover up back in July 2017 (when they delayed alerting the public for almost two months after discovering the breach). The fact is that the settlement does not include anything close to $125 for every affected person.

What Equifax has actually agreed to do is to pay “up to” $125 to each person who files a valid claim…but no more than $31 million in total. $31 million dollars divided by 147 million people (the number of people whose data was exposed) leaves…21 cents per claimant. The total settlement is $700 million, but that includes only $425 million for consumers. The rest covers penalties paid to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ($100 million) and to states ($175 million). The remainder of the $425 million set aside for consumers is for those who are able to prove that they suffered identity theft as a result of the breach.

Breaking this down mathematically, if even 1 million consumers file the simplest claim, opting for the cash payout instead of the credit monitoring (based on the amount of publicity generated by the settlement, I think it is highly likely this has already occurred), they will each receive a check for approximately $3.00. Each additional claimant will reduce the total amount paid to each claimant–the pot is split evenly between everyone who files a valid claim. It may be worth it to opt for the credit monitoring instead.

What will you be giving up if you claim the money or the credit monitoring? Your right to sue Equifax in the future. To be clear, you will also be giving up your right to sue Equifax in the future if you DON’T file a claim. That’s how class action lawsuits work—the negotiated settlement covers the entire class of people (147 million people in this case), whether they file a claim or not. The only way to protect your right to sue Equifax now or in the future is to file an anti-claim. You must formally notify them that you opt out of the settlement. But then you also have to sue them, something which few people will have the energy to do.

Equifax did not agree to pay $700 million out of the goodness of their hearts. They did it because it forever puts behind them the possibility of even bigger losses. Taken as a whole, it is clear that giving up your right to sue in exchange for a few dollars does not make filing a claim against Equifax a moral obligation.

My Favorite of the Cheap Modern Sewing Machines

Brother Sewing Machine

You can spend truly large sums of money buying fancy machines like Bernina, but most people don’t need all the functions of those machines (which really are incredible, but that’s another post). Most people who want to do some quilting or sewing for fun or as a hobby, or even as a small home-based business, are fine with a cheaper machine that still has some of the nicer functions. My favorite of the cheap machines is a discontinued model from Brother. I purchased it on Amazon as a “renewed” product, which means it was returned, but it was obvious that this had never been used. The plastic and tape was still . . . → Read More: My Favorite of the Cheap Modern Sewing Machines

A (Seemingly Quite) Large Mystery Left Unexplained in Game of Thrones; or, What is up with Grey Worm’s Crotch?

The finale of Game of Thrones left many unanswered questions, but the one that has been occupying my thoughts is the obvious and distracting bulge in Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson’s pants. Quite impressive for a eunuch.

Grey Worm’s unmissable bulge

Although it was never revealed if the unsullied were fully “emasculated” (by removal of both penis and testes), that is exactly what happened to Lord Varys, as revealed during a scene when he describes his castration to Tyrion: “With a hooked blade, he sliced me, root and stem…”. There is no reason to believe the slavers who created the Unsullied would have been more gentle.

Unsullied crotch

Perhaps actor Jacob Anderson just has . . . → Read More: A (Seemingly Quite) Large Mystery Left Unexplained in Game of Thrones; or, What is up with Grey Worm’s Crotch?

Craigslist shuts down personals section, not just in US, but WORLDWIDE

While planning a trip to another country, I was happy to see that Craigslist still had personals ads in other countries. They had shut down the personals section in the United States around six weeks ago, in response to legislation here. Five days ago, I took a look and contacted a few guys in anticipation of meeting them when I arrived in town, but when I looked this morning, the entire section had disappeared.

After doing some research, I was unable to find personals sections in any country. Every country I checked in Europe and in Central American and South America had the same disappointing result…no more personals ads. I tried to . . . → Read More: Craigslist shuts down personals section, not just in US, but WORLDWIDE

How I Combat Winter Depression, Even in Sunny Texas

I originally moved to Austin, Texas, in 2000 in an attempt to escape from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. I had been living for almost 9 years in Olympia, Washington, and the seasonal depression grew worse for me every year. Even in sunny Texas, though, the combination of the overcast weather and staying indoors during the colder months can still lead to the winter blues. I have finally found something that works very well for me…I would say perfectly. And it is much easier and cheaper than the crazy bright, expensive, 4 foot long full-spectrum fluorescent lamp that I used in the 90s.

Philips GoLITE BLU

I use the Philips GoLITE . . . → Read More: How I Combat Winter Depression, Even in Sunny Texas

Chase Freedom Card Disappoints with Its Most Recent 5% Bonus Categories–No Costco!

I carry and use the Chase Freedom card for occasional purchases, because I am an avid bonus points collector. In the past year, I have traveled from Chicago to: Mexico (four times); Oklahoma City (twice); Dallas; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (twice); and New Orleans (twice) ALL FOR FREE due to bonus points that I got from purchases or from signup bonuses (those signup bonuses were earned on three different CHASE cards). I still have over a thousand dollars in my point bank toward future travel. Each quarter, the Chase Freedom card offers a 5X bonus offer for purchases from certain types of stores. Last quarter was restaurants and movie theaters. The . . . → Read More: Chase Freedom Card Disappoints with Its Most Recent 5% Bonus Categories–No Costco!

I Got a Refund from Airbnb for a Cancellation in Austin Due to Hurricane Harvey

About a month ago I made reservations on Airbnb to stay in a cute little apartment in Austin, Texas, over the weekend of Gay Pride, which was scheduled for August 26th and 27th. I was planning to drive down from Dallas on Friday the 25th after work and drive home on Sunday. As that Friday approached the ominous forecast about Hurricane Harvey looked like it might put a damper on things.

When I woke up on Friday morning, it was to news stories about the imminent threat of the hurricane as it approached the coast. People were evacuating Houston, and Austin was under alert for heavy rains, flooding, and loss of electricity, . . . → Read More: I Got a Refund from Airbnb for a Cancellation in Austin Due to Hurricane Harvey

Do I Need to Buy a Pass to Enjoy Southern Decadence?

Put simply: NO

The first thing I would tell you is that you DO NOT NEED TO BUY ONE OF THE PASSES—especially as a first-time visitor. The first time I was planning to attend, I worried about this and wondered if I should spring for one of the VIP packages at the Bourbon Pub, but please rest assured: you do not need a pass. Each venue has its own calendar of events for that weekend, and they each try to make it seem like you need a pass (guaranteed admission! No waiting in line!), but you can have a great time without ever attending any of those events. There are several websites . . . → Read More: Do I Need to Buy a Pass to Enjoy Southern Decadence?

What to pack for a trip to New Orleans

I love New Orleans! It is honestly my favorite city to visit in the United States. The culture, the food, the architecture, and the feel of the place make it a wonderful place to spend a few days or a week, absorbing a culture that is unique to this awesome city. But there are some things you might want to know, and some things that you can take with you that will make your trip that much more enjoyable. I will put a list of items at the end of this article, but I first wanted to point out a few things you might not think of.

The first thing to know . . . → Read More: What to pack for a trip to New Orleans

Basis by Elysium Health: My Experience After One Year

I previously wrote a post when I started using Basis by Elysium Health exactly one year ago today. I wanted to update with my experience using this product over the last year. My old post includes a link to request a working coupon code that will give you a FREE month with your first order–with a prepaid subscription of 6 months or longer. FYI, the discount will not show up in your cart until AFTER you have created an account by entering in your address, email address, etc.

My experience has overall been quite positive. It is a bit odd to try to quantify this, since it is almost entirely subjective. I . . . → Read More: Basis by Elysium Health: My Experience After One Year

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