October 23, 2014
Heather Bearfield, National Technology Assurance Services Practice Group Leader, Quoted in CreditCards.com Article, "After the Breach: Should You Enroll in ID or Credit Monitoring Services?"
By Lisa Bertagnoli
If you've been the victim of a security breach, there's good news. Many retailers whose databases have been hacked are offering credit monitoring or identity protection services to affected customers.
They're doing it of their own volition; no states require affected companies to offer such services to customers. Forty-seven states, however, do require companies to notify customers of a security breach, and in late September, California beefed up its law a bit. The amended law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, requires companies that offer ID protection to offer it for 12 months, and for no cost.
Not everyone agrees. Monitoring services aren't immune from data breaches themselves. "There aren't any assurances," says Heather Bearfield, principal at Marcum LLP, a Boston-based accounting and advisory services firm.
Bearfield, who heads the firm's national technology assurances services practice, thinks that might be the reason for the low participation in free services: "People are nervous about giving their information to another party."
For her, accepting or declining an offer is a personal choice. Consumers can monitor their own credit, as federal law requires each of the Big Three bureaus to supply consumers with a free credit report each year. Timed right, you could get a free credit report every four months.
That said, self monitoring takes work. Participating in free monitoring, or even signing up for a service, "is another means of outsourcing your life," Bearfield says. "A lot of people outsource a lot of their lives today."