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NFCC Offers Free Credit Monitoring Following Target Breach

[Thursday, February 6th, 2014]

Thieves have a busy holiday season, as millions of consumers panicked when Target and Neiman Marcus both announced they had been the victims of massive data breaches during the peak of the shopping season.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) encouraged people to take advantage of free credit monitoring services following the security breach. As part of its Sharpen Your Financial Focus program, the NFCC offers a free year-long membership to Experian’s freecreditscore.com. This gives folks 12 months of credit monitoring services, text and email alerts in case of suspicious activity on their credit report, access to a mobile app that provided information and updates anywhere consumers travel, and free fraud resolution services if payment cards or information is compromised.

The NFCC said that credit monitoring is essential following a data breach, and that being on the lookout for unauthorized charges will make the fraud resolution process easier. The sooner suspicious activity is seen and targeted, the less damage criminals can cause.

Credit card versus debit card liability

Credit cards, not debit cards, offer the most protection again fraud. Federal law states that consumer liability is limited to $50, and if loss or theft is reported before the card is used, liability is zero. But most major card issuers have zero liability for fraud, meaning cardholders pay nothing.

Debit cards are also limited to $50 liability for loss by federal law, but only if the theft is reported within two days. Longer than that, and consumers can be held liable for up to $500. After sixty days, there is no limit on liability. This means that thieves could drain bank accounts and customers would be left to bear the loss, if they do not report it in a timely fashion.

This makes credit monitoring all the more vital. Being alerted to suspicious charges right away means that even in the wake of a big data breach, customers might be liable for potential losses. Credit monitoring also gives people access to their entire credit report and their credit score. This makes it easy to see if identity theft issues could be causing a lowered credit score or otherwise impacting a person’s credit.

Visit www.SharpenToday.org for more information about the NFCC’s Sharpen Your Financial Focus program, and to sign up for free credit monitoring.

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