Credit monitoring works by notifying consumers after fraudulent activity occurs—for example, if a new credit card has been opened in the victim's name—so that it can be quickly stopped. It doesn't alert customers if someone is actually using a stolen credit card, since that information doesn't show up on a credit report. "Free credit monitoring is like someone running up to you after a car accident and telling you, 'You just got in a car accident!'" John Ulzheimer, a credit expert at CreditSesame.com, tells MarketWatch.On top of the possibly misleading inadequacy of the service Target is offering, it also comes with a healthy dose of upselling. People nervous about the theft of their credit card and other information sign up for Target's free service—and are immediately told about the much better credit monitoring they could get for a low, low fee ... of up to $75. That's really comforting, thanks!
But according to Consumer Reports, Target's credit monitoring service isn't even as good as that—since it only checks one bureau, Experian, and this practice doesn’t provide a full picture of a person’s credit. [...]
Checking only one bureau means that "the service could miss fraudulent activity," Consumer Reports notes.
After the theft of information on more than 100 million Target customers, the company rushed to do damage control. But experts say Target's offer of credit monitoring for people whose information was stolen may be controlling public relations damage more than actual damage to those customers:
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