Target announced in mid-December that millions of customers were affected by a data breach. Hackers were able to obtain credit and debit card information, as well as names, addresses and phone numbers for some customers. Since the breach was announced, Target is working to make their system more secure and has also offered one year of a free credit report service to customers.
The retailer is offering free credit reports from Experian through ProtectMyID.com. This service typically costs $15.95 per month, or approximately $190 per year, but will come at zero cost for Target customers for a period of one year. In addition to giving customers access to their credit reports, the service will include identity theft insurance.
The free credit reporting service is available to all customers that have shopped in Target stores. Customers that decide to go with Target's free credit report service must sign up by April 23, 2014. After signing up, customers will receive an activation code, which must be redeemed by April 30, 2014.
Another big concern now that Target is offering the free credit reporting service is that criminals may send out emails under Target's name. Such phishing scams can cause people to get malware on their computers or put their personal information, such as Social Security Numbers, into the wrong hands. To avoid becoming victim to such scams, Target offers up a few tips on their Credit Monitoring FAQs page:
Never share information with anyone over the phone, email or text, even if they claim to be someone you know or do business with. Instead, ask for a call-back number.
Delete texts immediately from numbers or names you don’t recognize.
Be wary of emails that ask for money or send you to suspicious websites. Don’t click links within emails you don’t recognize.
If you suspect that you received a fraudulent email under Target's name, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This isn't the first time that a large data breach has resulted in personal information being divulged. A similar breach occurred in South Carolina back in 2012. A data breach in the Department of Revenue affected approximately 4 million taxpayers. Like Target, South Carolina also offered a year of free credit monitoring service through ProtectMyID.com.
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