In September of 2017, Equifax announced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. Under a settlement filed this week, Equifax agreed to spend up to $425 million to help people affected by the data breach. To sign up for FTC email alerts about the settlement at ftc.gov/Equifax.

Roughly half the people in the country can get benefits under the settlement. Now, residents can find out if they were affected by the September 2017 breach and make a claim for benefits.

Start at ftc.gov/Equifax. There, use a tool to find out if information — like a Social Security number (SSN) — was exposed in the breach, learn about benefits, and start a claim to get free credit monitoring and maybe even cash. If info was exposed in the breach, the settlement will give up to 10 years of free credit monitoring. That means residents will get an alert whenever somebody checks their credit history, opens a new loan or credit card in their name, or says a payment is late. So if somebody has, say, a resident's SSN and tries to use it to get a loan, this free credit monitoring service would let them know right away. That’s the kind of information that might make a real difference when applying for a job, trying to rent an apartment, or applying for credit.

And a word on the cash: there are several ways to get reimbursed for the time or money spent dealing with the after-effects of the breach. To get paid back for up to 10 hours of time, residents just need to say what they were doing for those 10 hours.

Check out ftc.gov/Equifax to learn more, and be sure to file any claim by Jan. 22, 2020.