Credit monitoring services can provide an invaluable tool if you are interested in protecting yourself against identity theft and credit fraud, but it is important to select a credit monitoring service that offers full protection against credit fraud and alerts you to possible instances of identity theft before it’s too late.
For a relatively small fee, these credit monitoring services will monitor your credit reports at various credit bureaus and notify you of any activity in your credit files, suspicious or otherwise, that could be the result of identity thieves compromising your credit information.
Although it’s possible to generally Monitor Your Credit Files for Free on your own, it would be virtually impossible and way too expensive to receive the necessary access to your credit information on a regular basis in order to monitor your credit reports effectively.
That’s why credit monitoring companies are such an important tool when fighting identity theft, because they can provide constant and complete protection against credit fraud, but you’ll want to make sure your credit monitoring service has the necessary features for full protection against identity theft.
Can your credit monitoring service answer the following questions correctly?
Which credit bureaus are monitored?
The only way you’ll get full protection is if your credit reports are being monitored at all 3 of the major credit bureaus, which includes Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Some credit monitoring providers only monitor your credit files at 1 of the credit bureaus, but you’ll want to make sure they monitor all 3.
Although the credit bureaus are required by law to share certain information with each other, this exchange is not instantaneous, and a creditor, such as a bank or credit card issuer, will usually only check your credit report from 1 of the credit bureaus when issuing you new credit.
This means that if a credit monitoring service is only monitoring your TransUnion credit reports, any activity in your credit files at Experian or Equifax would go unnoticed, so you’ll never know that a bank is checking your credit report at Experian in order to issue a credit card to an identity thief, while your TransUnion credit report is safely being monitored.
So make sure your credit monitoring program monitors your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion in order to ensure complete protection.
How often are the credit bureaus monitored?
Credit monitoring services should monitor your credit reports on a daily basis.
Some monitoring services only monitor your credit files on a weekly basis or even a monthly basis, but that’s like giving identity thieves a head start to spend your money and pillage your reputation.
Unless you want to find out that an identity thief was issued a credit card in your name 3 weeks ago or even 3 days ago, you’ll want to make sure your credit reports are being monitored on a daily basis.
What type of information is monitored?
It is important that your credit monitoring service monitors your credit reports for ANY activity, including credit file changes, recent inquiries, applications for credit, fraudulent activity, new accounts opened, address changes, etc.
Any activity at all could indicate possible identity theft or credit fraud, so it is important that you are notified of any and all activity in order to be fully protected.
How will I be alerted to activity in my credit files?
Credit monitoring services have various methods of alerting you to activity in your credit reports, including email, telephone, text messaging, U.S. Post Office, etc., so it’s really a personal choice as to which is the best method for you.
Just make sure the alerts are sent within 24 hours, which should be the case if your credit reports are monitored on a daily basis, but you’ll want to be sure.
Does the credit monitoring service provide any guarantees or insurance to protect you should a theft occur?
You’ll want to make sure your credit monitoring service provides some sort of financial guarantee to protect you in the event that your credit information is compromised.
This usually comes in the form of identity theft expense reimbursement coverage, and it will help compensate for the costs of recovering your identity or otherwise cleaning up the financial mess left by an identity thief.
Other Credit Monitoring Service Benefits
Many credit monitoring services also provide various additional services and tools, such as access to your credit reports and credit scores, information and assistance in understanding your credit reports, consumer fraud protection services, and credit improvement tips.
Credit Monitoring Services Summary
The purpose of a credit monitoring service is to monitor your credit files for any activity, which can help alert you to possible occurrences of identity theft and credit fraud.
However, it is important to understand that credit monitoring services do have limitations.
Because credit monitoring services simply monitor your credit files, by the very nature of their service, they are setup to report to you AFTER any activity takes place in your credit files.
This means that an identity thief could apply for credit in your name, and you would only be notified after the identity theft occurred.
In most cases, this is more than enough time to protect yourself, as the thief’s request for credit would usually take several days to process, but still, there is the possibility that an identity thief could receive instant credit, access personal information, or commit some other form of fraud in your name.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor your credit reports, it just means that you should be aware of this limitation and be ready to take immediate action if you receive notification that your credit files have been compromised.
If you want to further protect yourself, you can Set Fraud Alerts on your Credit Files, which help block thieves from ever accessing your credit reports to apply for credit in your name.
Overall, credit monitoring services offer an essential tool to protect you against identity theft and credit fraud, as long as they provide the necessary features that are needed for complete protection.
Major Credit Monitoring Service Providers
The Equifax Credit Watch Gold with 3-in-1 Monitoring plan monitors your credit reports at the 3 major credit bureaus and alerts you to changes within 24 hours.
Equifax also provides Score Watch, a credit score monitoring service, which will monitor your FICO credit score and alert you when your score improves. This is a great option if your main concern is improving your credit score, as Score Watch provides weekly monitoring of your FICO Score and daily monitor of your Equifax credit report, but doesn’t monitor your Experian or TransUnion credit reports.
Experian Triple Advantage
Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring monitors your 3 major credit reports on a daily basis, and you get a free 7-day trial when you order your credit report and score.
FICO Quarterly Monitoring services monitor your TransUnion credit report and score 4 times a year and also monitor over 400 other data sources for signs of identity theft.
Get more information about myFICO Credit Monitoring Services.
LifeLock is the only Identity Theft Prevention Solution backed by a one-million dollar guarantee! Click here to get a 10% discount on LifeLock.
Unlike traditional credit monitoring services, LifeLock automatically maintains fraud alerts on your credit reports, which help block thieves from ever accessing your credit reports to receive credit in your name.
Using LifeLock in conjunction with a credit monitoring service life Equifax is the surest way to provide a complete protection package against identity theft and credit fraud.
Credit monitoring services provide essential protection from credit theft and identity fraud, but make sure you choose a credit monitoring provider that offers the necessary features for complete identity theft protection.
Thanks and enjoy maximizing money.