Identity theft thieves are proliferating across America and are using ever more sophisticated techniques to hack your personal information. There have been well-publicized thefts of customer information by Target, Neiman Marcus and other high profile retailers. I suspect identity theft will become one of the big financial stories this year. After the Target breach, their fourth quarter profits dropped nearly fifty percent.
Target’s losses could provide you a free benefit. In an attempt to win back customers, Target is offering free credit monitoring for twelve months. Here are the details as well as information on how you can sign up:
- Target has struck a deal with Experian, one of the three major credit reporting companies, to provide credit monitoring through their proprietary ProtectMyID program. With this program they monitor use of your credit and send you emails regarding any suspicious activity; monitor internet activity related to use of your personal information including Social Security number, debit cards and credit cards; have a team available to help resolve theft of identity related issues. It also provides $1 million of identity theft insurance protection but this coverage is fairly limited. For more information visit www.ProtectMyID.com.
- To sign up through Target’s offer, visit http://creditmonitoring.target.com. At this site you’ll sign up for, and be emailed, an ‘activation’ code within seventy-two hours. You must request your activation code before April 23, 2014. Once you have your activation code, visit www.ProtectMyID.com/target and register for Target’s free offer. This must be completed by April 30, 2014. As a footnote, I could not find any information about this program on Target’s web site so you’ll need to access the offer through the web by copying (exactly) the web address: http://creditmonitoring.target.com (it’s a well hidden secret!).
- As part of the enrollment process, you’ll be required to provide your personal information including your name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number.
As part of this program, you’ll receive a free credit report from Experian. It does not include credit reports from the other two credit bureaus: TransUnion and Equifax. Remember, each credit bureau must provide you a free report once every twelve months. My recommendation is to spread out these requests so that you are ordering one every four months instead of all at once.
This program also does not provide you with your credit score which you can purchase for a modest fee. At the end of twelve months, you’ll have the opportunity to continue the service for about $16 per month.
So, is this a good deal and should you sign up? Understand that this is not a panacea and won’t prevent identity theft but these monitoring services are quite good. I personally use this type of service and do get regular emails about my credit activity. I also signed up for Target’s credit monitoring program and found it easy and quick to do. If you have any concerns about identity theft, I recommend that you sign up for the service and determine for yourself over the next twelve months if it’s a service worth keeping.