Worried about identity theft? So is TransUnion. The credit bureau is beefing up its credit monitoring membership in the wake of recent data breaches across the country.
TransUnion says it's added an instant-alert feature that notifies members as soon as someone applies for credit in their name.
"You could conceivably be in the auto dealer or the showroom while someone pulls the report and get the notification," explains Julie Springer, vice president of TransUnion. "Time is critical if there is an identity theft occurring."
Existing and new members will receive the instant alert via email, along with instructions on what to do if they weren't responsible for the credit application. TransUnion plans on introducing SMS text alerts and push notifications via its mobile app later this year.
The bureau has also added Credit Lock to its membership. This feature instructs TransUnion not to make a customer's credit report available to any lender. (Note: The "lock" will apply only to TransUnion credit reports, so a lender could conceivably secure a copy without the red flag if it first solicits Experian or Equifax.)
Credit monitoring through TransUnion costs $17.95 a month. Springer says the bureau plans to launch other alerts and enhancements to the membership in the near future.
Real-time alerts and customer-facing controls seem to be a real trend of late, which is, perhaps, understandable given the high-profile data breaches at Target, eBay and, most recently, P.F. Chang's.
Last week, Capital One introduced spending alerts that make it easier for its credit card holders to spot unauthorized or unwanted charges. AT&T is currently piloting a program that allows financial institutions to confirm the location of traveling customers via push notifications. And a few start-ups are shopping around solutions that allow consumers to turn "off" their credit or debit cards in an effort to card fraud.
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