Equifax breach: How to find out if your data was comprised, and get a free $125

If you were one of the 147 million Americans affected by the 2017 Equifax breach, you've finally got some money coming your way.

The credit reporting agency reached a $700 million settlement with government officials last week, agreeing to pay as much as $425 million of that money to consumers affected by the data breach.

Determining the full amount of money Equifax owes you may be a little more complicated, but getting a quick $125 could take less than a minute.

First, use this online tool to verify that your data was compromised in the 2017 breach. The tool will ask for your last name and the last six digits of your social security number.

Once your identity is confirmed, the site will ask for some more personal info, including your mailing address and your date of birth. From there, you'll be taken to a page titled "Section 1."

That page will ask you to either sign up for free credit monitoring or, if you already have credit monitoring, you can ask for a $125 check instead. The check will be mailed to the address you provided on the previous page.

The tool will then ask if you've spent any time trying to deal with the aftermath of having your data compromised. If you have, you may be eligible for even more money — up to $25 per hour for a maximum of 20 total hours.

You can also receive reimbursement for any money you lost or spent recovering from identity theft related to the breach, but you'll need a good bit of documentation to back that claim.

If you'd rather skip those steps — or, if like many Americans, you didn't know you were affected and therefore never spent time trying to recover from the breach — you can simply claim your $125 check.

But here's the catch: there's a chance you could get less than that. The settlement only includes room for 248,000 people to receive those cash payments, as the rest of the money is reserved for credit monitoring, reimbursements and identity theft restitution.

The deadline to apply is January 22, 2020, and the number on that check could drop significantly from $125 by then. For example, if one million people applied for cash payments, the final payout would be just $31 per person.