WASHINGTON, D.C. (1/23/14)--As credit unions look to help their members guard against the loss of personal information in the wake of the Target security data breach, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling's (NFCC) Sharpen Your Financial Focus program includes a free 12-month membership to Experian's freecreditscore.com for eligible program participants.
Credit unions have already incurred costs estimated to be in the range of $25 million to $30 million in costs as a result of the Target stores data security breach, a Credit Union National Association survey has shown (News Now Jan. 22)
The free membership includes credit monitoring and alerts to notify members about new activity on their credit report, a mobile app enabling alerts and updates on the go, and access to fraud resolution agents if suspicious activity is found on the consumer's report.
"Consumers need to be aware of unauthorized credit activity, and one way to effectively accomplish that is through credit monitoring," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. "It's hard to put a price on financial peace of mind, but since the freecreditscore.com product is offered at no charge, consumers are without an excuse if they don't take advantage of this opportunity to protect areas of financial vulnerability."
Federal laws protect consumers against loss but are typically tied to a staggered notification timeframe. Therefore, the sooner a consumer is aware of the issue, the easier it is to limit the loss.
In addition to the credit monitoring and alerts, the freecreditscore.com product includes access to the consumer's credit report and score; the Score Planner tool, which estimates the impact individual financial decisions have on the credit score; and personal finance articles. The features are designed to increase consumers' understanding of credit and to provide knowledge that can be used to make educated financial decisions.
The product complements the three-step Sharpen Your Financial Focus program. The steps are designed to help consumers regain control of their finances while increasing the likelihood of long-term positive credit behavior changes.