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Man in ski mask holding a credit card and a tablet computer to convey the general notion of online theft.
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:
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, tells MarketWatch.

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.

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!

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Did Consumers say what consumers should do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    at this point to protect themselves--especially since FBI & Others are warning about increasing incidents like Target hack?

  •  One Thing That You Can Do Is Freeze Your Credit (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eileen B, Aunt Pat, eru, Skyye

    history.  I believe there is a charge to freeze your credit and another charge to unfreeze.

    By freezing, you  will cause applications for credit (i.e. trying to get a new credit card, getting a bank loan, etc.) to be rejected. This causes anyone trying to steal your identity to be rejected.   You would need to unfreeze your credit before applying for credit yourself.  Also freezing your credit report can cause other problems, for example the Health Exchange uses it to verify who you are when applying for a health plan.

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 09:24:12 AM PST

    •  Yeah, that's exactly the part of the ACA that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      ticks me off. The credit bureaus are horrid, vulturous corporations full of erroneous data that has the power to destroy lives. In other words, no better than health insurance companies. Using Experian to verify identities has caused HUGE problems from day one.

      Plus, I hate the bastards for screwing up my credit/life/identity by merging my information with a deceased woman born in 1917 with the same name. Took over ten years to fix ... but by then, I'd basically lost ten years of my freaking life!

      I love finally having access to health care, but I HATE that the damn credit bureaus have anything to do with it.

      Check out my liberal tshirts, stickers, housewares and gifts at featuring the top selling bumper sticker Hate Socialism? Get off the road!

      by Eileen B on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 08:03:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Word. Small example: (0+ / 0-)

        Recently we applied for a mortgage. That was so horrid I don't want to describe it.

        Part of that is a credit check. From nowhere a $6500 BoA debt appears. Wife freaks out, thinking I have run up some weird debt.

        The credit check is done by some sort of aggregator in Colorado called AAA+ Accurate Data, or something. As in "We don't really give a shit about accuracy corporation."

        Back and forth with mortgage people. After being unable to locate said debt we are told its Experian's report. Under my wife's name.

        Examining report, we see nonexistent debt listed. We see several random addresses listed ... E.g., residence of her divorced husband, which is not where they lived when that divorce happened almost 15 years ago.

        We see a random name listed as one of her aliases ... Linda Smith, if you will, nothing even remotely close to any name she has ever used.

        Letters sent to AAAawful Credit get stuff corrected but the lessons are there:

        -- it's about selling documents, not accurate information, much like the MERS debacle;

        -- you don't know what's there but the burden is on you;

        -- the setup is multilayered, so the aggregators get theirs no matter how off the wall what they sell is.

        -- it's another corporate-controlled pain in the ass - which assumes from the top down that data is accurate, and from the bottom up that you have the time and inclination to spend fixing their mistakes.

        Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

        by dadadata on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:07:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  NPR did a good story on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Basically only the USA and one tiny country in Africa still use these kinds of cards. They interviewed one of their reporters who recently moved to Europe and had to get all new cards for use at POS. No magnet strips, etc.

    Naturally, the USA which is looking more and more like USSR everyday, is too cheap to change technology. Besides, like any good Iron Curtain country, the little people pick up the tab in the end.

    Knock twice, rap with your cane

    by plok on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:39:05 PM PST

    •  They're talking about EMV cards (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, Skyye

      More commonly known as chip-and-pin or chip-and-signature depending on your bank and locale.

      More and more banks in the states are starting to issue EMV cards - unfortunately mostly chip-and-sig instead of the more secure chip-and-pin, but CnS would still prevent Target-style attacks since everything is encrypted. CnP would take it one step further and prevent your card from being used if someone physically had it (i.e., stole your wallet) and even then, they would still be able to use it for online purchases.

      I have an AmEx with CnS, but I haven't found a place in the US where I can actually use it. I was at a CVS a few weeks ago that had an EMV reader, but when I tried to insert the card in the slot, the cashier barked at me to swipe it, so I did to move the line along, wasn't in the mood to argue. Supposedly Wal-Mart has EMV readers too, but it'll be a cold day in hell before I set foot in there.

      "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

      by yg17 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 08:02:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let the buyer beware... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rocksout, Aunt Pat, eru

    An old adage regarding merchandising... this kind of mentality must cease.  It is much to harmful to allow to continue.

    The companies, like Target, whose  business practices have allowed data theft... are they subject to any legal repercussions?

    It seems if they had to suffer any penalty themselves they may not be so casual regarding the lives and security of their customers.

    "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

    by Hermenutic on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:48:25 PM PST

  •  The Target Hack Occurred Because Of Vendors.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The hackers were able to gain access to millions of customer's accounts because Target had neglected to install a vendor firewall.  Target passed info on to their vendors without protecting their customers.  That's how the hackers got in.  Until Target fixes that access point, I won't use a credit or debit card there ever again.

    These days it's cash only @ Target and nowhere near what I used to spend there.  Loved their groceries, now unless I have the cash in my wallet that day, I go elsewhere & use my reward card.  And.....boy is that racking up lots & lots of reward points.....instead of at Target.  

    Bye Bye, Target.  They still have great $1.29 popcorn tho!

  •  Not trying to defend Target here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but there's some misinformation in the linked article I think needs clearing up.

    First one is that it's highly unlikely the hackers got SSNs or enough personal information to open new credit cards or loans in your name - it sounds like they just got credit card numbers and that's it. The worst they can do is charge stuff to your card, and you're only liable for the first $50 (and I don't know of any banks that don't waive that $50. So unless your bank is complete shit, like, shittier than Chase, BoA, Citi and the usual suspects topping the list of Shittiest Banks in America, you're not liable for a penny), so TBH, I'm not even sure why Target is offering credit monitoring services. Perhaps, like you said, PR stunt.

    Second one is that there is no, as far as I'm aware, credit monitoring service you can purchase that will alert you to individual purchases made on one of your credit cards. Banks report to the bureaus monthly, and they only report balance and if you're paying on time, individual purchases are not reported to the bureaus. If you've used your credit card at Target (or hell, anywhere, since this sort of thing can happen elsewhere too), you should be checking your account activity online. Since I used my cards at Target, I've been checking it once every few days and so far so good. Also, most banks should allow you to set up alerts. I have them set up so I get a text whenever my card is used in a foreign country or whenever a purchase over a certain dollar amount is charged to it. It might not catch every fraudulent purchase, and it does result in unwanted texts when I make a big purchase or travel, but it's a good start.

    To sum it up: There's not a product on the market that Target can offer consumers to monitor account activity, so I'm not sure what the fuss is about here.

    "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

    by yg17 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:58:02 PM PST

    •  However depending on the bank in order to try (0+ / 0-)

      and get your money back you might have to pay a $100-$200 "investigation fee" per charge which they get to keep even if the charges turn out to be fraudulent.  So sure your liability might be limited to $50 in theory but the banks have ways around that.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 11:38:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    • is the only place where you can (0+ / 0-)

      get alerts to purchases made on your cards (if you don't already have them set to individual alerts as it is, like I do). Not going to pimp the place, but it's what I use to monitor my credit score as it is the service that sits behind Experian, et al. It's the service banks use to truly determine your credit score. I use their ScoreWatch service which alerts me whenever a balance goes up on a card, or down, when my score hits a certain point, etc.

      Now, I also have all my cards set to alert me to any charges and with this electronic day and age, I have all my receipts emailed to me. Anyone can do this, and I highly advise doing so. The day my youngest daughter committed $5k of fraud, I knew within hours.... she cleaned out my bank accounts and had maxed out my Discover card. I was able to reverse almost all the damage she did within days other than the Overdraft fees she caused to my bank credit card.

      Also, I will give Chase kudos, they automatically sent me a brand new card because I had done my Christmas decor shopping at Target during the hack period. They shut down that account and sent me an email stating that they were sending me a brand new card to protect me.

      It is every person's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what they takes out of it. - Albert Einstein (edited for modern times to include everyone by me!)

      by LeftieIndie on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 03:21:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Target's data loss? Victims lose more $$$ (0+ / 0-)

    ... than the company loses per capita in these kinds of cases, that was my takeaway from Data breaches cost consumers billions of dollars, an NBC article of June 2013 that I cited in my diary yesterday on this topic, Is data security worth it? Depends who's counting. (You might want to skip the troll-inflected comment thread.)

    IMO, this is going to be the wave of the future. At least until the day victimization by data breach becomes so prevalent that the tide turns away from widespread surrender of what amounts to your financial reputation (as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion report it). My guess is that this will be a long time coming. Credit cards are soooooooooooo convenient......

  •  health care system data breach (0+ / 0-)

    Right after the Target breach (a place I shop at on a regular basis), I got a letter in the mail stating our regional health care provider had a data breach that included all my info. It was found to have been happening over a 4 YEAR period. As most are aware of the kind of information you give your health care provider, they have everything. Disconcerting to say the least. I accepted the free credit monitoring from them, but am considering the freeze as well no matter what it costs.

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

    by solesse413 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 08:10:17 PM PST

  •  My credit union was more proactive. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, eru, KJB Oregon, Skyye

    They checked my debit card usage and noticed that I had used it at Target. On the basis of that alone, they froze the card and required me to get a new one. New card #, new card PIN and all done within an hour, and at no charge to me from the credit union.
    There were a lot of people getting new debit cards.

    If I was any more excited, I would almost be apathetic.

    by gilacliff on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 08:11:49 PM PST

    •   I think credit unions are better at this sort of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      thing.  My daughter used her debit card at the airport and when she tried to use it again at a 7-11 type store in Las Vegas the next day the machine ate her card!  She received a call from them asking about these transactions as they were not her usual pattern.  She, of course, couldn't get a new card until  she returned from her trip there but they told her that if she was traveling she should call a certain number and let them know.  She thinks using it at the airport was the trigger.  In any event she was happy to find out that they track unusual purchases.

      Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't.... (then it's on to Plan B or more duct tape).

      by Aunt Pat on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 08:33:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Target lost my business for good (0+ / 0-)

    after this data theft. And their follow up hardly gives me any reason to reconsider the decision.

  •  you don't want credit monoring (0+ / 0-)

    Unless you want your bank VISA card cut off when you are on vacation out of state.

    free the information

    by freelixir on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 11:01:40 PM PST

  •  This state (0+ / 0-)

    lost all data the dept of Revenue had to include ALL ss and Ein numbers, for those who paid taxes of any kind including property tax for your auto's. Mind you this was AFTER a breech of Medicare/Medicaid info, half a year prior.

    Now the hacks have even the children's SS# for the rest of their lives.

    I look and follow the money and noticed, that the consolation prize the state offer, the credit reporting for one year.. was Experian, the same one who got the contract with Target and one other listed on the front of Experian website.

    I find it interesting all breeches going on.

    We asked for replacement cards and then put our cards away, took the money out of the bank acct that the Dept of Revenue had. Now we get cash at the bank and use cash. Hack that, one good time.

    Funny thing was a Dem Political Actor, suggested a bill to give the million or so called known to be affected, ongoing credit reporting service.

    To answer the opposition to this new proposed bill, he said if there was an identity theft, then AFTER the resident PROVED it was due to the state breech... And I thought, how the hell is someone to PROVE that against a rejected claim by the state.

    And how can a person who is now eight yr old going to PROVE it, say 12 years from now when those same SS# are still in the hacks network and being tapped..

    So, I guess nothing is safe and no one is accountable or they propose a slippery bill with built in contestable hardship for the victim.

    Shame really

    I asked the gov office how they could get up on TV and say they have offered this Credit reporting to their citizens for free, when that is fundamentally a hoax too.. Who pays for what the state offers? Where do they generate any money? oh, yeah, taxpayers, businesses.

    oh I see, I told the representative after letting them just tell me how wonderful a job they are doing about it.

    Does the governor really think so little of the citizens ability to think? The rep said excuse me? I said, do you think I would not realize everything the state spends, the taxpayers had to give you? Unless you have a hidden business that supports yourself. She said, I'm sorry, I didn't think of that...

    I understand, I told her, you have a job, that's what you do.

    But pass onto the Gov, we will vote, not by the political actors words, as we know these are only Scripts, likely we paid a writer to write, and we are moving toward voting according to the bills passed and insulting actions like the one you and I are experiencing right now.

    Have a nice day, thanks for your time, I need to go spread the word among those who actually pay for this state to have ANY money.

    I tell you all now, I am too done, had enough.

    Cash works and now I am trying to find a way to require some way to protect our SS numbers.

  •  Cancelled my Target VISA (0+ / 0-)

    I'd used a Target VISA since 1997, and I had typically carried at least a $2,000 balance.  I'd never missed a payment, making all payments on time, but a couple of years ago, they arbitrarily raised my interest rate.  When I called them on it, and reminded them that I'd been a good and loyal customer for well over 10 years, they told me they couldn't lower it back down to the prior rate because of such-and-such bullsh*t excuse.  I barked up the ladder a couple of levels, and still got the same BS line.

    So...three months ago, I paid it off and closed the account.

    Do you think I received ANYTHING from Target asking WHY I was dumping them?  Of course not.  They'd already made it clear they didn't care about me enough to keep my business.

    The thing is, I rarely shop at their store, but I happened to shop there during that 'window' prior to xmas.  My bank's response to me was to automatically issue me a new debit card.  Target's response:  NADA, other than offering the 'free credit monitoring.'  

    Yeah, thanks for nothin!

    One person can make a difference--and everyone should try. --John F. Kennedy

    by GypsyT on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 03:20:18 AM PST

    •  The fact hat states allow usurious interest (0+ / 0-)

      Is practically medieval. There you see 'states rights' in action. The right of a bank to charter in South Dakota or Delaware and run their schtick nationally.

      If anything should fall under interstate commerce, it is personal credit card rates.

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:15:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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