Credit monitoring services provide consumers with facilities to keep track changes on their credit reports. These credit help services are aimed to answer the growing concern about identity theft. In fact, fear of fraud is the reason why consumers who have been victims of data-security breaches are willing to pay for services like credit monitoring.
If you are using a credit report monitoring service, they would have alerted you, for example, if someone tried to get credit in your name. This will help you identify a fraudulent activity and minimize its impact on your credit much faster than if you were only obtaining your free annual credit reports. But, would a credit monitoring company be worth the $180 annual fee?
Pros and Cons of Credit Monitoring Services
A credit report monitoring service makes your life so much easier. They can quickly notify you of any activity on your credit files. If there are any inaccuracies within your credit report you’ll be able to immediately notice and then file disputes to correct the errors. By recognizing a fraudulent activity you can minimize the negative impact it would have on your credit.
Some service providers also offer tools that help you analyze your credit and how to improve it. Online forms that let you simulate the effects of applying for a loan on your credit score are one of the tools. If you’re trying to improve your credit, these tools can give you an idea of the activities that will result in the most significant increase in your credit score.
It’s impossible, however, for each company to watch your credit report on an hourly basis. Credit monitoring companies can’t fully detect any fraudulent activity because some creditors don’t report certain accounts immediately. As a result you will also not be notified once the activity takes place.
Depending on how you use a credit report monitoring service it’s possible that such credit help services are overpriced. ConsumerReports.org rated their services as “costly credit-monitoring services offer limited fraud protection.” Even though some agencies brag about their daily monitoring, the truth is that it’s not as real-time as advertised.
Credit Monitoring Services Vs Do It Yourself
The decision whether or not to use a credit monitoring service will depend on your specific circumstances. Some consumers prefer to monitor their credit reports and personal information by themselves; others choose to purchase a service to handle some of the tasks.
You can watch your credit by yourself using your free credit reports. Just order one report from a different credit bureau every four months. That way, you will be able to check your credit report for changes three times in a 12-month period. Between the four months period, or at any time, you may also buy your credit reports for about $9 each.
When you review credit monitoring services make sure you know exactly the level of credit monitoring that you needs — daily monitoring, all three credit report and credit scores. Find two or three reputable services and compare the information provided and the price you pay for it to choose an agency that offers the best services for your money.