You’ve probably heard of credit monitoring companies, and maybe you’ve looked into them a bit.
Certain services tend to come up a lot. But some people are unhappy with the services that they get and feel scammed.
Identity theft is a huge concern for all Americans, and rightfully so. Billions of dollars are lost each year to fraudsters, and it seems that anyone can find their name and SSN on a black market website!
Most of all, identity fraud is caused by a stolen credit card. Other times, a fraudster will try to open up a new card in your name. Maybe they’ll use your SSN to take out a loan. All of these things can negatively affect your credit score and may even lower your chances of getting a mortgage or a loan.
Because of this, you might find that you need credit monitoring services to make sure that you are kept aware of your credit activity.
Credit monitoring services are exactly what they say on the tin. They monitor your credit history for inquiries and track them, checking for inquiries that seem out of place. These inquiries may indicate that fraud is taking place.
Using credit monitoring, you are essentially protecting yourself from one of the most common forms of identity theft.
It’s also hard to monitor your credit on your own, especially if requests are made that you don’t know about. A credit monitoring service makes this easy and lets you know when potential fraud occurs on your account.
Your credit monitoring service has access to your credit report and uses it to check whether a new inquiry has been made. If it has, they will notify you of the inquiry, and you can then determine if it’s fraudulent or not.
Credit monitoring will check for inquiries and changes in your accounts that seem suspicious or out of character. For example, if your credit card is maxed all of a sudden, your monitoring service will notify you of the change.
Sometimes, your credit monitoring service will notify you of the changes that you made yourself. This is normal, and you can call or reply, letting them know of the situation.
Most credit monitoring companies offer a completely legitimate service and often offer extra features as well. Some extra features can sometimes include:
Read the full list of identity theft features these companies offer.
Some, however, will try to scam you. Stay away from these companies, and only purchase credit monitoring from trusted companies! Those companies typically will offer a free credit report and then sign you up for a re-bill of credit monitoring services that you did not order.
Your credit score is a numerical representation of your credit risk to lenders of all types, from banks to mortgage lenders. It ranges from 350 to 850. FICO has developed the formula in the mid 20th century.
Your credit report does NOT give you your credit score. Your credit score is simply a number that lenders will take into consideration. Anything over a 720 credit score is considered ‘good,’ and you will be able to qualify for most loans with that score.
Almost all companies do not give you your actual credit score but instead represent what your score is likely to be. Do NOT consider these scores as your actual credit score!
However, if you want to know the credit scores that real lenders are using, FICO has a service called MyFICO. FICO has developed the credit score and still is responsible for the scores that the bureaus give.
For a low price of $30/month, you can get access to all your FICO scores from all 3 bureaus, as well as the variations of the scores that lenders are using! Or, for a one-time fee, get your credit score right now!
No. Your credit score is dinged only when you apply for credit or an extension to your credit. This is called a hard inquiry. This is because applying for a lot of credit at once can signify overextension and may predict an irresponsible future.
Suppose someone does a credit check on you, whether an employer, a landlord, or a lender, is considered a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score. Checking your credit score or tracking it with a credit monitoring service does not affect your credit score in any way. With credit monitoring services, you’ll be able to check your history for fraud so that you protect your credit score without being penalized for checking!
To get a definite answer, read our post on ‘What is a Credit Freeze‘ for clarity.
Some monitoring services offer a credit freeze that you can do right from your computer, phone, or mobile app. A credit freeze means that no new credit may be taken out or requested from the freeze initiation. Most services will allow you to stop the freeze at any time, instantly.
If you see that your identity may have been stolen, you may request a credit freeze to prevent any more damage from being done. From there, you can cancel any cards that might have been compromised, call up your credit bureau to dispute any changes to your history, and contact your bank in case any loans have been taken out in your name.
A credit freeze is the recommended course of action if you find that your SSN and credit card information has been released on the Internet or if they are being used by someone you know.
If you are from the USA, you are entitled to a free credit report from one of the three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.
AnnualCreditReport was created as a joint project between Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax after the government ruled that making citizens pay for their credit reports was unfair. You can order one from each bureau once a year. Many people order one from a bureau, then 4 months later order another from another bureau, etc.
This credit report includes your recent credit history. It does not include your credit score.
We at ElitePersonalFinance have constructed a list of the Top 10 Credit Monitoring Companies, so you can learn which company is best for you. All of the companies on our list are trusted and verified by us, who have done careful research, so you don’t have to!