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Topics addressed on July 9, 2008:
Ensuring security breach notices are legitimate
I received a letter about an incident with an archive tape being lost with critical data. The letter offers a free subscription to Triple Alert. The site does ask for a Social Security number, birth date, etc. The letter provides a number to verify the issue, but how can I verify it separate from the letter?
Unfortunately security breaches do occur. In most instances they do not result in large numbers of identity theft. In this instance, it is quite possible that the data tape was simply lost and that it will not be used to commit fraud. However, businesses alert customers who could be affected so that they can take action to protect themselves.
Your question is a very good one. Here are a few tips for verifying the information for contacting Experian is legitimate:
Look closely at the Web address provided in your notification letter. Experian owns and operates several different Web sites that provide consumers with credit monitoring products. The following Web addresses are legitimate Experian Web sites:
Please note that there may be other information after the “.com” part of the address. This other information also is legitimate and is no cause for concern.
Experian offers different credit monitoring products on these Web sites. Referred to as “Triple Advantage” or “Triple Alert,” these products include various levels of identity theft insurance or guarantees. They provide monitoring of reports from each of the national credit reporting companies Experian, Equifax and Trans Union and are legitimate products offered by Experian on the Web sites listed above.
If you are still concerned, before taking any action, contact the business claiming to have suffered the incident. A customer service representative should be able to confirm that the business sent the notice and that the business is working with Experian to provide credit monitoring and fraud resolution products.
You should check your personal credit report at least once a year, whether or not you get a security breach notice. Doing so will ensure all of the information being reported is correct and could alert you to fraudulent activity.
Experian’s credit monitoring products provide notification when a change is detected on your credit report. Experian’s innovative protection products give you broad access to your credit reports, your credit score, and other tools that can help you better manage the risks associated with identity theft.
Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team