Don't Waste Your Money: Is Target's free credit monitoring safe? - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: Is Target's free credit monitoring safe?

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Target is offering a year of free credit monitoring through the credit bureau Experian. (Source: Target) Target is offering a year of free credit monitoring through the credit bureau Experian. (Source: Target)
(Toledo News Now) -

Have you received an e-mail from Target lately in the wake of its security breach? Many people are wondering if these are legit, or part of the breach.

The massive Target security breach - we were told - involved customers who swiped their cards during November and December last year. But now, it appears almost everyone who used plastic at Target then is getting an e-mail from the store offering free credit monitoring. Should you sign up?


Do you still have questions about Target's data breach? Click here for FAQ.

Kellie Kruse is one of millions of Target shoppers who recently opened their inbox to find an e-mail offering free credit monitoring.
    
But after Target's massive data theft, Kruse says she was suspicious this could be part of the breach, as well.

"I received the e-mail about getting a free credit monitoring service," she said, "and I wasn't sure if it was a hoax, or legit."

The worst part, Kruse says, is that when she clicked through to sign up for monitoring, it asked for her Social Security Number. After the data breach, she says, she did not want to share anything with Target, "especially any more information. I didn't want my credit to be compromised in any way."

Not A Scam

But it turns out the e-mail is legitimate.

Target is offering a year of free credit monitoring through the credit bureau Experian. Experian, not Target, is running the program.

If you have ever dealt with a credit bureau, you know they require your Social Security Number and birth date to do anything - it's how they know you from everyone else with the same name. You are giving your SSN to a major credit bureau, which already has it.

After learning that, Kruse decided it wasn't a bad idea after all.

"I think its great, and if it helps people keep track of their credit file, I think it's wonderful," she said.

But despite that praise, this longtime Target shopper won't give the store her debit card anymore.

"I have been paying cash, instead of using a debit card or credit card. I've been more conscious about it," Kruse explained.

The Bottom Line

Credit monitoring from one of the big three credit bureaus is good. Free monitoring is even better.

It may not completely prevent identity theft, and it won't stop someone from using your credit card number, but it can alert you to trouble with your credit file right away.

If a store offers it free for a year, there's really no downside.

If you are uncomfortable giving out your SSN, that's fine, but you cannot get the monitoring. You also cannot get a copy of your credit report.

So you may want to consider it, so you don't waste your money.

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