Free stuff: credit monitoring, identity theft protection, ID theft insurance

This really isn’t spam or a scam, we promise. You can sign up now for one year of free credit monitoring including unlimited access to your credit reports, identity theft protection and ID theft insurance should your identity be stolen. Here’s why.

Target said Monday that its customers may now sign up for a free year of credit monitoring and identity theft protection, as part of its response to a massive data breach that leaked information on at least 110 million customers.

Because of the blowback from the compromise, Target changed from its initial offering only to customers it verified were affected and negatively impacted–meaning their identities were not just disclosed, a scammer had gone further and used that information. Target then said anyone affected (up to the 110 million guests) would qualify for the promotion, and eventually settled on making the program avalilable to any member of the public that indicates they shopped Target or Target.com between November 27th and December 15th. This effectively positions Target to saddle the cost of everyone and anyone’s credit monitoring and ID protection services for a year, since there’s no logical way they could prove or disprove someone shopped during that time. Target says it’s working on the honor system but many folks take issue with that considering so much personal, sensitive data was disseminated in one of the largest retail hacks in history. Target faces criticism from security industry experts that it took many shortcuts with its cash registers’ firmware and software, where the point of sale malware was embedded, rendering them open season for fraudsters.

To sign up, customers are asked to go to a Web site (linked at the end of this post) and enter their e-mail address to receive an activation code; Target said the e-mail address entered at this site will only be used to send the code and not for any other purpose. Shoppers have until April 23rd to register for their activation code. All codes must be redeemed by April 30th.

To further ease concerns, the entire project is being handled internally by Experian, one of the four credit reporting agencies–and not by Target. Once users get their activation codes they’ll be asked to enter a variety of personal information into the Experian Web site to verify their identities for the credit monitoring and theft protection. This includes information such as address, social security number and mother’s maiden name — all to ensure that consumers get the right credit reports. Target will not have access to the data.

Once users are signed up for the service, they will receive a complimentary copy of their credit report and the option to receive daily credit monitoring, access to fraud resolution services and identity theft insurance where available, among other included features. The services are all part of Experian’s “ProtectMyID” package and are free for 12 months from the day of enrollment. Users will not automatically be re-enrolled — or charged — when the free service stops.

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ChrisByrnes.com has verified this program is authentic and this link is safe at time of publishing

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