Round 2 of credit monitoring courtesy of the state of South Carolina…”Sorry about dropping the ball.”
It’s been a year since the State let us know that our identities had been compromised. The information the State requires us to provide to them for a variety of reasons was laid bear by hackers and when the dust cleared, it appeared the hackers gained access using one of the oldest access tricks in the book: email link and had great success due to the out-dated systems, almost non-existent security measures and an apparent lack of attention to cyber security.
The state moved quickly (ok, not so quickly) to inform us, to assure us that they were fixing things and that they were going to give us some protection through “free” credit monitoring (tax payer money still paid for the “free” service). For no direct cost to us, Experian provided credit monitoring for all who signed up. They kept track of activity on all three credit bureaus, but now the year of free coverage is coming to an end.
Much has been debated in the Legislature this past session about what additionally the State needed to do for us, even an idea for the State to provide us with 10 yrs of credit monitoring for free. In the end, not much was settled.
Many of you have been receiving emails from Experian, letting you know that your 1 yr free coverage would soon be completed and offering you a deal on 1 more year of monitoring, .99 per month of coverage, monitoring all three credit bureaus. Pretty sweet deal, another year for just $12.
Wait a minute, don’t sign up just yet. the State has finally completed the bidding process for another year of free monitoring courtesy of the State. The State is hiring a company called CSIdentity Corporation (CSID) to provide coverage for another year and a possible third year that will not cost you and I anything directly.
Free is definitely better than $12, and you should be able to start signing up near the end of next month. Another Voice with Eric and Friends was ready to recommend you wait until Oct. and take advantage of the CSID deal until we started looking at the details. Each offer has merit and you will need to weigh the pros and cons of each offer.. Let’s take a look at both offers and you decide which one is best for you.
Experian’s offer: 1 year of continued monitoring of all 3 credit bureaus for individuals for $12 a year. Experian is well known entity in the credit monitoring business. South Carolinians who are using the free service have already given them their personal ID information when they signed up last year. Experian’s offer ONLY covers an individual, if they are seeking to cover their entire family (some of the identity information stolen belonged to children), they will be paying around $200 more.
CSID’s offer: 1 yr of monitoring only 1 credit bureau, TransUnion for free. CSID is a lesser known entity in the credit monitoring business, but has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau. In order to sign up for this service, South Carolinians will have to give another company their personal ID information. It is not clear whether the coverage will extend to the children, although the State’s contract with Experian included the children for free, so it seems likely this contract would include them. Your taxes are going to pay for this service whether you use it or not.
So those are your choices, at least for protection that is easy on your wallet. Whether you chose one of these or any of the more expensive options available to you on the credit protection market, we urge you to choose something to protect yourself, not only from these hackers, but from all those others out there we don’t know about. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!