If you used any Yahoo product between January 1, 2012, and the end of 2016, you're eligible for a share of the class-action settlement related to a series of massive data breaches that affected three billion users. That share could mean a payment of as much as $358 if you choose to forgo the offer for free credit monitoring.
Of course, there's fine print. The settlement website is clear that payments, which will be based on the total number of eligible claims, could (and will likely) be less than $100 per person. That $358 amount is only if there are funds remaining after all claims are verified. So the payment could be less than $100 or it could be more, depending on how many people file.
You have four options if you had a Yahoo account during the window mentioned above:
1. Choose Credit Monitoring
If you file a claim for credit monitoring, you'll receive services for at least two years, but it could be extended up to four years depending on how many people also choose this option. Credit monitoring includes identity theft monitoring, insurance to cover costs associated with repairing your credit, and daily monitoring of any activity on your credit reports.
Since many people already have free comparable services through providers like Credit Karma, or through their bank or credit card provider, this is likely the least beneficial option.
2. File a Claim for Compensation
You can file a claim for an alternative compensation, which entitles you to a payment based on how many others file. You can also file a detailed claim for reimbursement of certain costs if you had to take action because of the breach--if, say, for example, your information was used to open an account.
The alternative compensation requires that you confirm that you have credit monitoring in place (since you're being compensated for that service), and agree to keep it in place moving forward. Depending on the work you had to do to repair your credit or deal with a loss, you can file a claim itemizing those expenses and request reimbursement.
3. Object to or Opt Out of the Settlement
This are technically two different options, but the effect is similar. You can choose not to be a part of the settlement at all and pursue your own action. One of those actions includes the ability to file a complaint with the court that you don't believe the settlement is fair. You can let the court know you don't think it should approve the settlement, and if enough people do so, the court may reject or request changes to the settlement.
If you simply opt out, either you're deciding you don't want to file a claim or you can choose to file your own separate legal claim. Honestly, the latter only makes sense if you suffered significant harm from the data breach and need to recover substantial costs.
4. Do Nothing
Finally, you can do absolutely nothing. Which is honestly what most people will probably do, and it's exactly what Yahoo is counting on. Most people won't jump through the hoops to file a claim, and as a result, they'll lose their chance to take part in the settlement. Also, if you do nothing, when the settlement is approved, not only won't you receive any compensation, if you're a part of the class, you also won't be able to take any action on your own.