Is Target's offer for free credit report and credit monitoring a phishing scam or the real deal? Customers who recently found themselves victims of a massive data breach in Target's point of sale system which exposed personal and financial information on more than 110 million customers are questioning the validity of a new credit monitoring offer coming their way by Target via email.
WATCH: Target credit card breach: Seven things to know about the hack
Though the offer of a year's worth of free credit monitoring and identity theft insurance (through Experian) to help protect them from becoming victims of credit card and identity theft is in fact legitimate, it's no wonder these individuals are questioning if it's for real. After all, the offer bears all the earmarks of a typical email phishing scam we've all been warned of time and again.
The email, looks official but it requires users to visit another website and enter personal and sensitive information like social security number and date of birth. These elements seem like a red flag warning to many users receiving the email and they've taken to social media to discuss it.
But how can someone tell if this Target free credit report and credit-monitoring offer is actually legitimate? And how can you make sure some copy-cat malware isn't out there to fool customers who are innocently signing up for what they think is an official target offer? Is it safe to sign up for the fraud protection? Why is sensitive data like social security number needed to enroll in Targets free credit report and monitoring offer? Here a few tips for knowing if the email you've received is for real and if the free credit report offer is one you should take.
How To Know If Target's Free Credit Report and Credit Monitoring Email Offer Is For Real Or A Scam
The following tips have been offered by David Lazurus, a tech and security columnist for the LA Times. In addition, we've included a screen shot of what the legitimate Target email offer should look like and say.
1.) An authentic Target free credit report offer will not require you to click on any links WITHIN the email. You have to visit a corporate website online within the target domain. The site address is creditmonitoring.target.com. If the email or even an informational website requires you to click on a link to get to the credit report, it's not legitimate. Target, in it's authentic free credit report offer warns users also not to click on any links of this kind.
2.) When you do visit the Target corporate web address to sign up for the free credit monitoring offer, the company will require you to enter your name and email address. They will then send you an activation code for your offer. To ensure this is a legitimate activation code to the free credit monitoring, check for the sender's domain name. It should include the target.com domain. Watch out for scammy look alikes though - for example target-credit.com, or get-target-report.com and so on.
3.) Though it may feel like an invasion of your privacy, in order to monitor your credit or do the free credit report, an identification pointer like a social security number is a must. This is the same if you were to do a credit report anywhere.
If you know anyone wondering if the target free credit report and monitoring email offer is authentic please share this information with them as well.
How To Get The Free Credit report And Credit Monitoring Offer From Target
Twitter Responds To Target Free Credit Report and Credit Monitoring Email
— Rod Trent (@rodtrent) January 17, 2014
Target's free credit monitoring: How do you know it's legit? http://t.co/89zdKjIboL — T.O.P (@vsltop) January 17, 2014
I feel bad for @Target but offering me one year of free credit monitoring is not a solution.
— Femme Noire (@1roguechick) January 17, 2014
To reassure "guests" that Target cares about your security, you get a free credit monitoring service that asks for your SSN and DOB. Uh... — Little Miss Quincy (@LilMissQuincy) January 17, 2014
How do I *really know* this email from Target offering free credit monitoring isn't just a phishing scam?
— Todd Walker (@ToddWalker) January 17, 2014
Hey Target,I DONT WANT YOUR STUPID FREE CREDIT.REPORT!! — sayit (@sayit) January 17, 2014
— ~Southernkiddo~♥ (@Southernkiddo) January 17, 2014
Way to go @Target ! I think offering free credit monitoring is the least they can do! Better than nothing! pic.twitter.com/j1V3CH6zV7 — Traci Fravel (@levarficart) January 17, 2014
— Tara Obermeyer (@tara_obermeyer) January 17, 2014
kind of ironic that the day after I sign up for @Target's free credit monitoring that my account was used on the other side of the country — aniko (@msprincesskoko) January 17, 2014
Target emailed me letting me know my data may have possibly been in the customer leak. They offered 1 free year of credit monitoring.
— Kendall Price (@kprice25) January 17, 2014
Target is giving us 1 free year of credit monitoring cuz of all that mess? I was hoping it was gonna be a gift card or something — شهد (@sudanesechik) January 17, 2014
Remember when it was the free credit report dudes reminding us to check our credit scores, not constant emails from Target?
— K_ (@HiK_Bye) January 16, 2014