Q: I heard about a lawsuit settlement where you can get free credit monitoring. Do you know anything about it?
A: To settle allegations that it improperly sold consumers’ personal information for marketing purposes, TransUnion, one of the major credit bureaus, has agreed to provide up to 9 months of free credit monitoring services to potentially 150 million consumers.
Although TransUnion denied any wrongdoing, the class action lawsuit settlement requires that the company sign up consumers for either six months or nine months of monitoring. There is also the possibility some people will get a cash settlement as part of this deal.
Basically, just about anyone who has used credit is eligible for this settlement. It is available to anyone who opened a credit account between January 1, 1987 and May 28, 2008. Those credit accounts may include a charge card, mortgage, student or car loan.
To become part of this settlement you have to sign up by September 24, 2008.
Under the settlement terms, you have to choose one of the following options:
- Six months of credit monitoring only. The six months of credit-monitoring services normally retails for $59.75 and includes the ability to lock your credit report so that third parties, such as lenders or other companies, will not be able to access your credit report without your consent (unless allowed by law). This option also gives you unlimited daily access to your TransUnion credit report and credit score.
- A cash payment only (if money is available for distribution).
- Six months of credit monitoring and a potential cash payment.
- Nine months of enhanced monitoring service. If you select this option, you can’t get any cash. The nine months of enhanced credit monitoring normally retails for $115.50 and includes all the services listed for the six-month option. You also get insurance scores and a mortgage simulator service.
Credit monitoring is designed to help prevent identity theft. I’m not a huge fan of creditor monitoring. Although it’s helpful, it doesn’t prevent identity theft. You only get contacted after your personal information may have been stolen. But with the service, you could catch identity theft before it gets bad. However, since, under this settlement, credit monitoring is free, I would recommend signing up for it.
And according to the terms of the settlement, TransUnion can’t automatically sign you up for renewal at a cost.