Photo Video
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Hide Caption

Is Target's free credit monitoring safe?

Don't Waste Your Money

a a a a
Share this story

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 email 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.

And 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."

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."

The Bottom Line

Credit monitoring from one of the big 3 credit bureaus is good.  Free monitoring is even better.

It may not completely prevent ID 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.

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

If you are uncomfortable giving out your Social, 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.

______________________________

Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

"Like" John Matarese on Facebook

Follow John on Twitter (@DWYM)

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More DWYM
Secrets to avoid the soaring price of beef
Secrets to avoid the soaring price of beef

John Matarese has ways of avoiding soaring steak prices

When it's safe to shred old documents
When it's safe to shred old documents

John Matarese shows what's safe to shred, and which papers you should save forever.

Cobalt, Saturn owners anxious for repair
Cobalt, Saturn owners anxious for repair

John Matarese reports on the wait for ignition switch repairs

Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions
Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions

A dangerous new phishing scam is targeting the sensitive information of millions of Netflix users.

You Win Wednesday freebies
You Win Wednesday freebies

John Matarese shares the latest freebies. Click here for App of the Week

IRS phone scam targeting thousands
IRS phone scam targeting thousands

John Matarese has a warning about a major tax scam this spring.

iPhone 6 plans leaked: Bigger, thinner
iPhone 6 plans leaked: Bigger, thinner

John Matarese has a preview of Apple's upcoming new iPhone.

Tesla could change the way you buy a car
Tesla could change the way you buy a car

John Matarese looks at the new controversy over car sales

Beware of home deed letters in your mailbox
Beware of home deed letters in your mailbox

John Matarese has a warning about a strange letter many people are receiving.

Best places to find free public Wi-Fi
Best places to find free public Wi-Fi

John Matarese lists the best places for finding free public Wi-Fi and a caution before you use the service.