News of major data breaches has consumers on high alert. But are you staying one step ahead of the next headline?
The bottom line is that we need credit. Establishing and using credit is a necessary part of how we function. So while I'd love to tell you to always pay cash to protect yourself, it's just not reasonable. It is also not reasonable to think that your only responsibility in today's marketplace is to wait to be contacted about your compromised credit.
So what should you be doing? Absolutely look at your credit card bill. But that's not enough. The data value isn't in your spending limit. It's in using your personal information to open new accounts that you won't know about, which is why you should be checking your credit report.
You are entitled to one free copy of your report from each of the three major reporting agencies once a year. I stagger them January May and September. A simple reminder in my phone alerts me that it's time to do it.
Is that the same thing that's being offered for free from target right now?
Target is offering is free enrollment in Experian's ProtectMyID program which is a form of credit monitoring. It will alert you to new inquiries – dings and other information on your credit report. If it's been confirmed that you are the victim of Identity theft there is resolution assistance and insurance protection as well.
We also hear about companies like Lifelock. What's the difference there?
Lifelock will put a fraud alert on your credit. This is specifically reserved for anyone who has "a good faith suspicion that they have or are about to become a victim of fraud or related crime including identity theft." This adds an additional layer of red tape when trying to use your information to open accounts or use your credit. You can put a 90 day alert on if you think you're in danger of ID theft, a seven year alert on if you have confirmed your identity has been stolen or a 12 month alert for military who have concerns about security during deployment.
While companies like LifeLock are happy to charge you to do this, you can do it yourself for free simply by contacting each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
KDFW FOX 4
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