The $700 million Equifax data-breach settlement presents a relatively simple choice to affected consumers: Would you rather get paid $125, or go for the 10 years of free credit monitoring?

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 , plenty of people say that’s not even a question: They’ll take their $125, thank you very much.

Better think again, says the Federal Trade Commission.

Some 147 million consumers were impacted by the 2017 data breach. Earlier this month, Equifax settled a class-action suit in relation to the breach. Up to $425 million of the sum is earmarked for consumer relief.

If one quarter of those in the class-action suit against Equifax  — 36.75 million people — go for the money, they stand to deposit an 84-cent check.

“A large number of claims for cash instead of credit monitoring means only one thing: Each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money,” said Robert Schoshinski, assistant director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

Millions of people have already visited FTC’s site for claims since the settlement was announced a week ago, according to Schoshinski. “The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming,” he said.

On Monday, the agency told consumers to be on the watch for phony websites holding themselves out as the place to put in claims.

Benefits include payments up to $20,000, but only if class-action members can show they’ve been harmed in the breach.

Members of the class-action suit also have the option of 10 years of credit monitoring. That’s four years of credit monitoring and identity protection from Equifax

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 and the two other major credit bureaus, TransUnion

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  and Experian

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Then Equifax will offer another six years of credit monitoring. It includes up to $1 million in identify-theft insurance and identity restoration services, he said.

***The monitoring also offers “dark web” monitoring and alerts if a payday loan is taken out using a a class member’s Social Security number, court papers show.

The overall retail cost of the monitoring $1,920 per person, according to filings from the plaintiffs’ lawyers. ****

If class-action members have credit monitoring, the settlement provided for the alternate $125 payment.

Many people — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York — said that was the way to go.

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

Some credit-monitoring services cost anywhere from $80 per year to $240 per year.

“The free credit monitoring is worth a lot more,” Schoshinski said. “The market value would be hundreds of dollars a year. And this monitoring service is probably stronger and more helpful than any you may have already.”

If class members already applied for the $125, they can switch to free credit monitoring, he said.

**** “From a pure dollars and cents perspective, the credit monitoring service provides more value to consumers than the alternative compensation,” said Amy Keller, of DiCello Levitt Gutzler, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the underlying class action lawsuit. She noted “it would cost consumers nearly $2,000 to buy the same type of credit monitoring we are offering in the settlement on the retail market themselves.”

There are other ways to get money in the Equifax settlement.

The pact will pay class members $25 an hour for the 20 hours they spent dealing with the breach’s affects or preventing harm. The first 10 hours, $250, require claimants to certify they’ve spent the time dealing with the headache but it doesn’t require documentation. Claiming the next ten hours will require documentation, including bank and credit card statements.

Equifax did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has not admitted any liability in the settlement. ****

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Workers sewing in a clothing factory in Bozhou, east China’s Anhui province.

STR | AFP | Getty Images

China’s manufacturing activity contracted in July, according to results of a private survey released on Thursday.

The Caixin/Markit factory Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was 49.9 in July — slightly better than expected, but still in contractionary territory.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the indicator to come in at 49.6. The reading for June was 49.4.

PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that signal contraction.

Subindices for new orders and production both returned to expansionary territory, while the gauge for new export orders rose slightly even though it was still in contractionary territory, wrote Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group, a subsidiary of Caixin.

In particular, the measure for future output rose in July, signalling that confidence rose among businesses, he added.

“China’s manufacturing economy showed signs of recovery in July,” said Zhong. “Business confidence rebounded, reflecting the strong resilience in the economy. Policies such as tax and fee reductions designed to underpin the economy had an effect,” he said.

On Wednesday, data from the Chinese statistics bureau showed official manufacturing PMI contracted for three straight months, coming in at 49.6 for the month of July.

Even though both the official and unofficial PMI surveys point to modest improvement for the Chinese manufacturing sector with downward pressure easing, headwinds still remain, said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.

The readings “still appear consistent with a renewed slowdown in year-on-year growth in industrial output and broader economic activity,” Evans-Pritchard said in a note on Thursday. “This should keep policymakers in easing mode.”

While the People’s Bank of China has opted not to cut benchmark interest rates like the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Chinese central bank has continued to roll out piecemeal monetary loosening measures — including an expansion of its re-lending facility that provides cheap funding to regional banks, noted Evans-Pritchard.

The official PMI survey typically polls a large proportion of big businesses and state-owned enterprises. The Caixin indicator, features a bigger mix of small- and medium-sized firms.

The PMI is a survey of businesses about the operating environment. Such data offer a first glimpse into what’s happening in an economy, as they are usually among the first major economic indicators released each month.

For China, the PMI is among economic indicators that investors globally watch closely for signs of trouble amid domestic headwinds and the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute.

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2018 Dodge Charger

Source: Fiat Chrysler

Teslas may be the most talked about cars on the road, but they are not the hottest models with auto thieves. In fact, new data shows the top targets for auto thefts are powerful gas-powered cars and pickup trucks.

“None of the models on the most stolen vehicle list are cheap,” said Matt Moore, vice president for the Highway Loss Data Institute, which tracks insurance loss statistics. “Thieves are looking to make money, so they look for the pricier models.”

This year, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat had the second highest theft rate among vehicles from model years 2016-2018, according to HLDI. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for a 2018 Challenger Hellcat was of $64,295, according to the auto website Edmunds. Meanwhile, the average transaction price for many of the most popular pickup trucks is now well over $40,000.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

Source: Fiat Chrysler

For more than two decades, the institute has reported which vehicles are most and least likely to be stolen. This year, the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X have two of the lowest theft rates, according the HLDI.

Moore said one reason the two Tesla vehicles are almost 90% less likely to be stolen than the average car could be that many electric cars are parked in garages or close to homes so that the cars are close to a power supply for recharging  batteries.

“Vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity, and electric cars parked in locked garages where they are recharging certainly makes it harder for a thief,” he said.

How often a car or truck is stolen does impact how much owners pay for auto insurance. So those models with a higher theft rate are likely to carry a higher insurance premium, especially if the cars are being driven in areas of the country where auto thefts are more common.

Overall, auto thefts are declining in the U.S. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports 773,139 vehicles were stolen in 2017, down 53% from 1991, when auto thefts peaked at 1.66 million vehicles.

Most stolen vehicles, 2016-2018 model years

  1. Dodge Charger HEMI
  2. Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
  3. Infiniti Q50 4-door
  4. Infiniti QX80
  5. GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab
  6. Dodge Challenger
  7. Nissan Maxima
  8. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab
  9. Chrysler 300 4WD
  10. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Source: HLDI

2017 Infinity Q50

Source: Infinity

Least stolen vehicles, 2016-2018 model years

  1. BMW 3 Series 4-door
  2. Tesla Model S 4WD
  3. Tesla Model X 4WD
  4. Chevrolet Equinox 4WD
  5. Buick Encore 4WD
  6. Subaru Legacy (with EyeSight)
  7. GMC Acadia
  8. Subaro Forester (with EyeSight)
  9. GMC Acadia 4WD
  10. Volkswagen New Beetle

Source: HLDI

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in walks past Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, 2019.

Kim Kyung-Hoon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

South Korea’s foreign minister warned on Thursday that if Japan removes South Korea from its list of countries with minimum trade restrictions, Seoul would have to review bilateral security cooperation

Relations between Japan and South Korea are arguably at their lowest ebb since they normalised ties in 1965, with a spiralling diplomatic and trade row threatening to disrupt the global supply of semiconductors and undercut crucial security cooperation on North Korea.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha held talks with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on the sidelines of a Southeast Asia conference in Bangkok on Thursday.

The meeting was the highest-level talks since Japan tightened curbs last month on exports to South Korea of high-tech materials, accusing its neighbour of inadequate management of sensitive items.

A South Korean court ruled last year that Japanese firms had to pay compensation to South Koreans forced to work in Japanese factories during Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Japan says a settlement has already been reached.

The Bangkok talks failed to narrow differences, with an official at South Korea’s foreign ministry saying there was “no
major change ” in Japan’s stance.

Tokyo is expected to give cabinet approval for the removal of South Korea from its so-called “white list” as early as Friday.

Kang said she urged Kono to stop the process or it would force Seoul to craft countermeasures.

“As Japan cited security reasons for its trade restrictions, I said we will have no option but to review the various frameworks of security cooperation with Japan if the cabinet decision comes tomorrow,” Kang told reporters. There was no immediate comment from Japan’s foreign ministry.

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