We promised last week that we would follow up with details on how Target customers affected by the data breach can sign up for the free year of credit monitoring that they announced they would be offering, and this is that post. Monitoring will be provided via Experian's ProtectMyID service.
The form asks for your full name and email address. Once entered, you will receive an activation code within 1-5 days (mine arrived in about 10 minutes), along with further instructions for setting up your credit monitoring. After submitting your code, you will be asked for personal information that includes your social security number. You'll also be asked to verify a few basics, like a street you used to live on or a loan application you recently submitted, to doubly and triply establish that you are who you say you are.
If the idea of handing out your SSN online feels weird and wrong, and it generally should, trust that Experian is a rare exception to the rule. Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus and absolutely is considered trustworthy. You cannot set up credit monitoring without completing this step, and it would not be an effective service if you could.
Just in case there is any confusion: You are NOT giving your sensitive personal information to Target.
We feel it's definitely worth your time to sign up, especially since we heard about a similar breach at Neiman Marcus over the weekend, and an anonymous but apparently knowledgeable source noting that at least three other unnamed major retailers have also been hacked recently. Credit monitoring will cover a lot more than Target.
You can check out our previous coverage of the Target breach here: