About Credit Monitoring Services
Credit monitoring services are cheap protection for you. Every week we hear about companies having their customer information stolen. With so much computer crime, credit fraud has skyrocketed.
It’s reassuring to know there are services that can catch these problems early and protect you from financial damage. Have you ever handed over your credit card to pay for charges at restaurants or hotels? Do you shop online? It’s confusing trying to remember who handled your credit information.
If you care about your financial health then your credit profile needs to be protected. The easiest way to do this is with a credit monitoring service.
What Is Credit Report Monitoring?
Credit report monitoring involves companies that watch a person’s credit profile to detect any changes or suspicious activity. They “monitor” your credit and then alert you when anything unusual occurs in your credit files. Most of this is automated and provided for a monthly subscription fee. Alerts are sent by email, text or telephone.
A credit monitor subscription also alerts you to possible identity theft when employment or residence information is brought into your file. You are told whenever someone inquires about your credit too.
Identity theft usually involves someone using your stolen information to try and obtain new accounts in your name. Thieves change your account addresses to receive your credit cards and correspondence so you don’t realize what has happened for many months.
A credit monitoring service flags new accounts to message you when they are opened. It also notifies you when there are fluctuations in your credit scores and any changes to your existing accounts.
Some credit monitoring companies analyze your information and make recommendations for improving your profile and your credit scores. Reports update you about how your credit use affects interest rates, scores and even insurance rates. This could save you money. It’s almost like a financial and credit coaching service included in your monthly credit monitor subscription.
Why Do You Need Credit Protection Services?
When your account numbers and personal information fall into the wrong hands it can cost you a lot of money. It also makes your life difficult. You must challenge charges to your account or simply pay them.
If the fraud has continued for awhile before being discovered then paying the charges on your account may be your only option. It can be difficult to stop unauthorized charges while also making sure your legitimate transactions are paid.
If you are a business person who relies on your personal credit it can be disastrous. Your bank will freeze your account for several days. This causes bounced checks and other problems.
People in this situation are often forced to close the account and start with a new one, involving more time and hassle.
There are other costs. Your credit scores can be hammered after someone goes on a shopping spree at your expense. Interest rates on your accounts can shoot up. There are situations that require your credit to be clean. This could be a new job (most employers check credit before hiring), an apartment, car financing or a home loan. Businesses will often check your credit before deciding to have you as a partner.
Negative information stays on your credit report for 7 – 10 years. What would you do if a job promotion requires you to have nothing unusual or derogatory in your credit? You can try to explain to an employer, landlord or lender that the unflattering marks in your credit are not your fault. It is not as convincing as never having the negative impression in the first place. Having a professional service monitor your credit is simply a good form of insurance.
Can You Monitor Your Own Credit?
You may be wondering if you should monitor your own credit and not subscribe to one of the credit monitoring services. If you have enough time and are disciplined enough to remember to stay consistent, then you can keep track of your own credit. Really keeping an eye on your credit files requires you to request a credit report every month. You must compare accounts with all recent activity.
Here are some of the items you will be looking for:
- Fluctuations in your credit score.
- Changing credit account balances.
- Locations where transactions occur.
- Uncommon charges, products or services you don’t normally purchase.
Rapid changes in your credit score arise when someone makes purchases online or by telephone within a short time. It causes consumer inquiries to the credit reporting agencies and having many inquiries can drop your scores.
Also, credit information thieves usually make many small purchases stretched over months or even years. They hope that you won’t notice small charges over a long time. It adds up. Most people don’t have the time to track this. A credit monitoring service watches your credit profile for you.
How To Find The Best Credit Protection Company
Because credit protection has become such as essential part of financial planning for many people, there are several companies offering the service. Deciding which one you will subscribe to for monitoring your credit profile involves looking at reviews and making sure it fits your budget. One that we’ve heard offers a good service is Capital One’s CreditWise credit monitoring service.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure their service matches banking-level security. There’s always a chance there may be a system breach jeopardizing data. However, all of the top companies have the most secure systems available for locking your data to keep it safe.
- Do you want credit reports and scores included in your subscription?
- If you want reports available, do you want them from the “Big Three” bureaus, or just one?
- How long have they been in business? If they’re established it’s a good sign.
- If you haven’t heard of the company, check their BBB rating. Read customer reviews.
The best credit protection companies include free credit reports or scores in your monthly subscription. This helps you easily check your credit performance over time.
If monitoring your credit scores is important to you then you should ask which one the service reports. FICO isn’t the same as VantageScore. Don’t make the mistake of tracking the wrong score.
These tips will get you on the right track with credit protection services. For more information you should subscribe to this website or bookmark it and stay current with credit monitoring and other credit services.