With a public perception that was once the envy of all discount retailers, Target Corporation is in serious damage control mode following the debit card and credit card security breach that has affected millions of customers. As part of its mea culpa, Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring through Experian’s “Protect My ID” service. The following benefits are included as part of Experian’s “Protect My ID” credit monitoring package:
Credit Report: You will get a free copy of your Experian® credit report.
Daily Credit Monitoring: You will receive alerts regarding key changes to your credit report, including new inquiries, newly opened accounts, delinquencies, or medical collections reported on your Experian®, Equifax® and TransUnion® credit reports for one year.
Identity Theft Resolution: If you have been a victim of identity theft, you will be assigned a dedicated, U.S.-based Experian® Identity Theft Resolution Agent who will walk you through the fraud resolution process from start to finish.
Identity Theft Insurance: If you have been a victim of identity theft, you will immediately be covered by a $1 Million insurance policy that can help you cover certain costs, including lost wages, private investigator fees, and unauthorized electronic fund transfers for one year.
ExtendCARE: You will get full access to personalized assistance from a highly-trained Fraud Resolution Agent even after the initial one year ProtectMyID™ membership expires.
If your information was compromised as part of the Target data breach, you can easily register through Target’s website to have a free Protect My ID activation code emailed to your inbox.
The question, of course, is if this “free” service is worth the hassle of signing up considering you need to provide your personal information including your Social Security Number (after all, isn’t this what got us all here in the first place)?
Although it is not an ideal situation for anyone involved (except maybe the criminals who stole your information), I believe the Experian credit monitoring service is a very worthwhile step to take if you are concerned about someone using your identity to commit fraud. Experian, as you may know, is one of the three major credit monitoring bureaus (the other two being TransUnion and Equifax) and is not part of Target; Experian, along with the other two credit bureaus is arguably best positioned to contain the fallout of this security breach.
The one caution I have for you is that Experian is also a “for profit” business and will attempt to sell you several additional products and services as “add-ons” to your free credit monitoring service (these add-ons include access to your credit scores, FICO/credit score tips, credit score monitoring services, etc.). My advice is to simply pass on these offers and focus on the free services included in the “Protect My ID” package first. The services already included in the Protect My ID product should be more than enough to control anyone from causing permanent damage to your credit file.
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