Well, it’s no longer a secret anymore, we all have admittedly fallen on tough economic times. Most people today react to economic deterioration by either excluding or reducing the reckless spending of nonrefundable revenue and start reviewing their finances. In most instances, those with average income focus on how they will cater for their daily needs and how to faithfully settle their monthly bills right on time so as not to ruin their own credit standing.
According to data released by the Federal Trade Commission, about 10 million customers are in one way or another affect by identity theft every year. As a matter of fact, this is the today the fastest growing crimes both in Canada and the USA.
Credit Monitoring services were conceived as a result of the ever increasing cases of financial fraud and ID theft. Initially, the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) were the first to offer this kind of service to the consumers. After which many more credit monitoring companies started. But you must be very vigilant, since some are reputable while others are not.
I am certain that you have come across several arguments for and against credit monitoring. If not, then I will advise you read about two or three blogs or even Google “credit monitoring” and you will come across numerous articles saying that services of credit monitoring are scams and the protection they offer is not worth the amount of cash you are required to pay. Meaning that they are not effective in making sure your identity is safe. Then on the other hand, you will read testimonies of people saying that they have once been victims of ID theft and that credit monitoring can actually go a long way in making sure your identity is protected all the time.
So, which side is the truth? Continue reading and I will reveal to you the truth. I am certain that the main question lingering in your mind right now is whether credit monitoring is a scam or not.
Credit Monitoring – Is It a Scam?
It certainly would be reassuring to know that when we look for a business service to help meet a need, whether it be through the television, print media or the Internet, that we could trust that service to treat us loyally. But, the reality is there are many fraudulent businesses out there that don’t have the best of intentions and claim to provide certain benefits to the consumer that they do not or cannot follow through on.
Unfortunately, some of these businesses are Credit Monitoring Services. A common scam perpetrated by Credit Monitoring Services is to lure you into trying their service on a 30-day trial basis and for doing so; you can receive a free credit report. Once you agree to the trial period, you get the free report, but you end up getting charged for the service anyway, despite the claim that if you cancel before the trial period is up, you will not get charged. One of the 3 major credit bureaus was found guilty of this.
In addition, some credit monitoring services claim that they can prevent identity theft. This is not the case. Preventing identity theft requires much more protection than a Credit Monitoring Service alone can provide. In fact, there is no full-proof identity theft prevention, unless of course you place a freeze on your credit report from all 3 credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The credit freeze prohibits anyone from creating new accounts in your name or accessing established accounts to steal your money.
All of that being said, it still doesn’t prove that all Credit Monitoring Services are fraudulent or that they don’t provide a reputable service. There are many Credit Monitoring Services that are credible and have been approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
One example is Identity Guard. Identity Guard’s Total Protection package has been rated one of the most comprehensive service packages offered. For approximately $15 dollars monthly, Total Protection offers a free 30-day trial, 3-bureau monitoring (monitoring by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and free quarterly reports from all 3 credit bureaus plus daily credit alerts and $20,000 dollars of identity theft insurance.
Another favorite is Equifax Credit Watch Gold with Score Power, also accredited by the BBB. Equifax Score Power offers roughly the same benefits as Identity Guard’s Total Protection, the only differences being that Equifax Score Power offers unlimited access to your FICO score and credit report but from Equifax only AND an initial 3-in-1 credit report which lays out a side by side comparison of the 3 credit bureau reports.
Of course there are numerous other Credit Monitoring Services that are worthy of our trust. The most important thing to remember when you choose any Credit Monitoring Service is to be sure that they meet the standards of the Better Business Bureau. Also, know that if you do choose to go with a Credit Monitoring Service and you feel you have not been treated properly, there is a place to go file an official complaint. Just visit ftccomplaintassistant.gov to access the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) Complaint Form.
So, why exactly should a consumer go for credit monitoring services?
I know most of you must now be wondering why it is very important for a consumer to always seek credit monitoring services. Continue reading and to understand more.
Normally credit reports are created by speaking to one of the major credit monitoring companies and putting up an account with the ability to easily relay every information about your credit report. TransUnion, Experian and Equifax are the three companies we are talking about.
As a consumer, it is possible that you can get three distinctive credit reports thanks to the three credit monitoring companies. Well not doubt that these reports may turn out to be carrying same information but if you check clearly you will notice that one of them is containing pieces and bits that are not in the public domain. If you really want to increase the rate of your credit report, then an annual check from the three main companies is a must.
To further elaborate, there are many different parts making up a credit report. The first part is usually the consumer info, which entail the name, address, employer and date of birth. Another is your account’s history, dating back from the time of opening it to the time you might have applied for a loan or even taken one.
Here, you will agree with me. The creditor’s information is one of the most overlooked part of a credit report. With information about your credit report from either of the credit companies, you will be able to know the right information required to speak or even get hold of a certified creditor, or in other situations, the creditor who is already managing your loans and accounts.
The main reason why every employed or self-employed person needs a credit report is to allow him or her know how you have been managing your current and past loans, or even any other financial debt you may be having. With a credit report, you will be in a position to tell whether your identity has been stolen or if someone is using your name to acquire loans.
Concerning how lenders can use credit reports, pieces of information from credit reports that can be used by lenders are numerous. Certain information, for example your previous loan repayments, will allow the lender judge whether you are a responsible borrower who always pays in time. Other information contained in the credit report will inform the lender of your track record as far as management of finances is concerned.
As a former borrower, if you wish to see that your credit is secure all the time, then it’s wise to go for credit monitoring services. The extra benefits you will be able to get from seeking the services of credit monitoring such as the 3 in 1 report provided by several services online are; the ability to check your own credit score at once from all the major credit monitoring service providers. Additionally, you will be able to be updated in case of any changes made to your credit score in the shortest span possible of within a week.
The number one reason for having your credit monitored is to make sure you are safe from identity theft. ID theft simply means that someone might be easily using your personal details to illegally applying for loans or using other means to add debt to your personal account. With credit monitoring, you are sure of getting immediate alerts in case any extra charges are added to your credit report. This will allow you deal with then instantly.
However, you are also able to monitor your credit report by simply requesting all the three credit monitoring companies. I am sure this sounds familiar, right? With this technique, a consumer is able to evenly spread the requests throughout the year as opposed to requesting all the reports at once. Meaning that you can request for a report after every 4 months. The best thing about this method is that you can easily sidestep credit monitoring services.
Even though it offers you a rather good methodology of trailing your credit score, credit monitoring services don’t offer you the simple tricks and tips on how you can prevent ID theft apart from providing alerts. The most important bit of common sense that each and every person should depend on is that of making sure all inactive accounts with lenders or even banks are closed. This can go a long way in making sure that the risk of your identity being stolen is low.
To finish, an ideal credit monitoring service will make sure an insurance against unexpected debts or loans whilst your identity was filched is included. Meaning that your credit monitoring service should offer you insurance that is equal to between 10-40 thousand dollars against ID theft. This is certainly much more than just extra bonus concerning observing your credit!
Now that you know why credit monitoring is important, let’s shift gears and look at both Life Lock and Identity Guard Total Protection. Basically, I am going to compare the two so as to give you a clear outline of what they basically entail.
Life Lock and Identity Guard Total Protection
Of course not a single person would wish to become a victim of ID theft. And saying that your life can be ruined by this act at least temporarily, is not an overstatement. We all admittedly confess that the economy is gradually deteriorating hence more people are attracted to criminal activities and the latest and most disreputable ways is to steal someone’s identity. It is easy for an identity thief to apply for a loan using your personal details such as your card number, social security number or even your bank number. It is also possible for the crook to request for payday loans, which charge ridiculously high interest rates using your name. Whilst it is likely to straighten out this fraud, the time and money involved, not to mention the emotional stress attendant on attempting to reclaim your life.
Even though LifeLock is by far well thought-out as a leader in this industry of Id protection, you can also get a reliable and strong protection from identity guard total protection. There is no doubt that one of the most recognized benefits of ID guard total protection is the daily monitoring from the three major credit reporting agencies. Additionally, you will get unlimitedly get access to your credit scores. But not with LifeLock.
Apart from the normal offers you get when using LifeLock and many other protection companies i.e. helping you with a stolen purse or wallet, Identity Guard Total Protection is equipped with a more advanced program that is aimed at providing utter most security to you PC. It is indeed true that almost each every person uses the internet on daily basis and has come across at least one designed program used to steal personal information from individuals without their consent. With Identity Guard Total Protection you will get a software that is strictly designed to defend your computer in numerous ways. A perfect example is the Zone Alarm firewall which is normally use as the first line of defense. However, you will equally get programs structured to protect you from intrusion of spyware and viruses.
One more feature that comes with subscription of Identity Guard Total Protection is Mobile Lockbox. With it you are able to store both your financial and personal details safely. And you can easily repossess the stored information either from your computer or even PDA or mobile phone.
The main difference between Identity Guard Total Protection and LifeLock is evident in handling of an ID theft case. Even though you will realize that Identity Guard Total Protection is somewhat very reliable when averting and speedy exposure of ID theft, LifeLock still stands superior in the management of the theft.
To sum up this discussion, let’s look at the relationship between FICO score and credit score and how they end up affecting you!
Credit and FICO score
I know you really wish that it was possible to actually pay cash for every single goods and service you get, but no, this is not the case. It is not even possible. Once the flow of liquid cash becomes low, it becomes necessary to seek other methods of paying for the services and goods being offered. And this is certainly where credit plays its role.
In simple terms, the moment you have little cash to settle your bill, you will be forced to look for a lending source to assist you complete the transaction. Basically, this is where the line between credit and FICO score is clear revealed.
The relationship between the two can either be harmful or helpful mainly depending on the situation. If you get to understand the relationship between the two (credit and FICO score) then you will easily understand why.
It is impossible for lenders to give funds to anyone who may not be in a position to pay back money issued to them. This is because they will be risking turning their businesses bankrupt. Instead of dealing with such a possibly ruinous situation, it will be wise and much safer to lend those that possess a decent track record of settling their debts. Here is where a demonstration of the relationship between FICO and credit score is apparent.
A FICO credit score is able to openly show your payment history as well as your feasibility as a moneylender. As a matter of fact, this is the most vital credit score issued by majority of the credit agencies. About 75% of lenders prefer to use FICO credit score statement before making a determination.
However, this does not mean that there is anything wrong with the other scores. Just that most of the lender will not bother looking at them. They will rather capitalize their effort and time sorting through the score given out by FICO.
Intrinsically, with a rather perfect credit report and score, you will notice that your potential and process of getting credit is almost effortless compared to others that have poor credit scores. This is exactly how the loaning business works. Definitely nobody will be able to loan anyone that is evidently a bad loaning prospect.
So, if your credit score is way below the average, make sure that you do everything possible to increase it. Well, this may prove to be somehow difficult but at the end, it’s worthwhile.