The financial world today is fraught with pitfalls. One of the biggest issues is your credit score. Lenders — and others — check your credit score regularly to see what sort of default risk you present. Your credit score is largely based on the information that is reported to the major credit bureaus, so it is important that the information be accurate. On top of that, it is important to keep tabs on your credit history so that you can catch possible instances of identity fraud.
While it is possible to monitor your credit on your own, with help from annualcreditreport.com and sites that provide free credit scores, some people prefer to have the convenience of a credit monitoring service. If you are interested in having your credit monitoring, you should be careful to ensure that you are getting a good deal.
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What Do Credit Monitoring Services Provide?
For the most part, credit monitoring services provide similar options. The most basic packages should do the following:
- Look for unusual activity on your credit report regularly (daily, weekly, monthly), and let you know if something shows up.
- Give you copies of your credit report regularly (at least two to four times a year).
- Provide the option of fraud insurance/fraud resolution help.
There are other credit monitoring services such as monitoring your bank accounts and monitoring public records to keep you up to date on what is happening in your name. These types of services often cost more, and you should carefully weigh the cost and benefit of purchasing them.
Choosing the Best Credit Monitoring Service for You
Before committing to a credit monitoring service, it is important to do your research. You want to find a service that will help you reach your credit goals and be aware of potential identity theft. Think about what you want in a credit monitoring service, and then begin comparing different plans from various companies. Some basic things to look for as you evaluate credit monitoring services include:
- Tracks all three credit agencies: Make sure that the credit monitoring service actually tracks the information reported to the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Be sure that the credit reports you have access to are from all of the major bureaus.
- Customer service: Find out about the customer service options. You should be able to contact someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You want to make sure that your problems are handled quickly. Find out about the ways to reach the service (text, live chat, phone, etc.), and look for information on how quick the response time is.
- Cost: Compare costs for similar service packages. You should understand, though, that the typical cost of a good credit monitoring service is between $10 and $20 a month. If you are paying much more than $20 a month, you should be concerned that you are over-paying — or getting something completely unnecessary.
You should also take the time to search for customer reviews online. A search of the name of the company plus the word “reviews” should yield you plenty of information. Check with the Better Business Bureau as well. If you do some research and comparison shopping you should be able to choose the best credit monitoring service for your needs.
Recommended Credit Monitoring Services
Here are some credit monitoring services that we recommend. These services will also give you instant access to your credit scores when you successfully enroll.
|TransUnion: Credit monitoring for $9.95/month with one-time 3-Bureau credit report and score. Unlimited updates on your TransUnion credit report and score. Email alerts of critical changes to your credit for all 3 bureaus. And more.|
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.