You may have a lot on your holiday to-do list, but if you were a victim of last year’s Target data breach, you should add another item to that list: Check the status of your free credit monitoring.
Target, like many of the companies that experienced data breaches in the last year, offered customers the option of signing up for a year of free identity fraud protection. For customers who accepted Target’s offer early on, the free service through Experian’s ProtectMyID will expire soon, leaving users with the option of paying $9.95 a month (or $99.95 per year) to continue the service or letting the membership end.
“Target Guests were provided one year (12 months) of free membership in Experian’s ProtectMyID and will be notified of its expiration by Experian via email,” said Sandra Bernardo, public relations manager at Experian, in an email to Credit.com. “Members have 30 days from the date of expiration to pay for continuation of PMID. After 30 days members can contact ProtectMyID Customer Care and extend their membership via phone.”
Bernardo also noted that customers who continue their membership will have access to new features through a partnership with BillGuard, like 24/7 card fraud monitoring and alerts, card location alerts (using geolocation from the user’s mobile phone) and data breach alerts.
The credit monitoring market has a lot of different options for consumers to consider as well. Make sure when considering a credit monitoring service, you look at monthly cost and read the fine print on all of the services being offered.
Regarding the Target breach specifically, Molly Snyder, a Target public relations representative, sent a statement to Credit.com. The following is an excerpt of that statement:
Throughout the past year, we have detailed a number of actions we have taken to enhance security and will continue to invest in this area going forward. In addition, we have brought in new senior leadership including a new CIO and CISO who bring additional expertise in cyber security to Target. In addition, we continue to take an active role in helping to coordinate and promote information sharing across the industry by joining the Financial Services ISAC and the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center.
What to Do If Your Free Credit Monitoring Is Expiring
If you’re facing the option of paying for continued service or going back to life without it, know that you have some free options for monitoring for credit card and identity for signs of fraud. Here are a few tips for those who choose to go the DIY route.
1. Check Your Card Activity Daily
Log onto your bank or card account every day, either online or using a mobile app (always via a secure network), and look for any transactions you didn’t make. Doing this daily makes it much easier to spot unauthorized activity.
See if your card or bank offers free transactional alerts — if you get an alert about a purchase you didn’t make, you know to investigate it immediately, without having to log into your account. It’s a simple way to stay informed about what’s going on with your finances and prevent a thief from causing damage.
2. Check Your Credit Scores Regularly
If you look at your credit scores every month, you’ll notice if your score suddenly drops. (Note: You need to look at the same score each month, otherwise you’re not comparing apples to apples.) Looking at scores more sporadically won’t help you see such drastic changes, which may be an indication of fraud or identity theft.
You can get two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com, with updates every 14 days.
3. Review Your Free Annual Credit Reports
You’re entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. Look at them to make sure everything seems accurate. If you see accounts you didn’t open or anything else suspicious, dispute the item and use the contact information provided to find out what happened.
More on Identity Theft:
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
- How Credit Impacts Your Day-to-Day Life