When it comes to the safety of your credit, you want to be sure you’re using the best credit monitoring services out there and not just any fly-by-night company.
Some things in life can be safely ignored for weeks, months, or even years with no harm done. Other things… not so much.
Your credit profile falls into the latter group of things on which you should probably keep tabs. Without at least minimal monitoring, your credit reports could collect erroneous or outdated information — or, worse, fraudulent accounts.
These days, it’s easier than ever to monitor your credit. Not only do you get a free annual credit report from each of the three major bureaus, but most credit cards now offer monthly credit score updates and tracking. But not everyone wants to do their own monitoring. And, happily, you don’t have to.
Top Credit Monitoring Services
A wide range of companies offer credit monitoring services, many of which will also keep an eye on your identity and Social Security number.
The depth of features you get will vary by cost and company. While some services limit scores and tracking to a single bureau, others will keep an eye on all three credit bureaus and monitor your identity for suspicious activity.
- 3-bureau credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
- FICO® Scores are the most used for mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards.
- Checking your credit with FICO will not affect your FICO Scores
- Proactive credit report monitoring and alerts
- $1M identity theft insurance
- Click here for sign-up and details.
|Experian, Equifax, TransUnion
Although its price tag may be a little on the high side, the myFICO.com FICO® Identity Ultimate 3B credit monitoring program is about as comprehensive as it gets. Not only can you monitor all three credit reports with quarterly updates, but you’ll also receive unparalleled access to 28 of the most commonly used FICO credit scores.
- UNLIMITED updates to your TransUnion Credit Report and Score
- Email updates of critical changes
- Lock and unlock your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports
- Personalized debt analysis and credit score tending
- Click here for sign-up and details.
TransUnion Credit Monitoring provides a ton of information and tools to help you stay on top of your credit, including unlimited updates to your TransUnion credit reports and scores, credit activity email alerts, and the ability to lock and unlock your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports in minutes. With the annual plan, you can save up to 50%.
- Get alerted to suspicious identity threats by text, email, or phone
- Receive alerts for Social Security Number and Credit activity
- Feel secure with LifeLock Privacy Monitor™
- Three levels of service to customize for your needs
- Click here for sign-up and details.
|Varies by Plan
|$8.99 and up
LifeLock’s identity protection services come in three tiers depending on the features you want. The $8.99/month LifeLock Standard offers SSN and credit alerts, plus dark web monitoring, LifeLock Privacy Monitor™, and single-bureau credit monitoring. At $17.99/month, LifeLock Advantage offers all the services of the Standard plan, plus bank and credit card activity alerts and annual credit report and scores. The $26.99/month LifeLock Ultimate Plus is the complete solution for three-bureau protection.
IdentityForce offers both identity protection and credit monitoring through its $23.99/month UltraSecure+Credit package. It includes all of the identity protections offered in its cheaper plan, plus three-bureau credit monitoring, reports, and scores.
- 3-Bureau Credit Report & Score Monitoring
- Bank and Credit Card Activity Alerts
- Social Media Identity Monitoring
- $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance
Both package levels include the same identity protection tools, including bank and credit card activity alerts, Smart SSN Tracker, lost wallet assistance, and social media identity monitoring.
In addition to a base-model plan solely for identity protection, PrivacyGuard offers two plans for credit protection and monitoring. The $19.99/month (after 14-day trial) PrivacyGuard® Credit Protection plan includes three-bureau credit reports and scores, monthly credit score tracking, and three-bureau daily credit monitoring.
- Three-bureau credit reports, scores & monitoring
- Monthly credit score tracking
- Dedicated ID fraud resolution support
- Credit information hotline
If you want to add identity protection to your credit monitoring, the $24.99/month (after 14-day trial) PrivacyGuard® Total Protection plan includes all of the same credit protections, plus tools like dark web monitoring, an annual public records report, and lost wallet assistance.
6. Credit Karma
Credit Karma is one of a few free credit monitoring services, and it offers weekly updated TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and scores, as well as alerts for changes to your TransUnion credit report. Keep in mind that these scores are based on VantageScore models, not FICO.
- Get access to TransUnion & Equifax credit reports
- Weekly updated VantageScore credit scores
- Credit alerts for TransUnion activity
- Get insights into your personal score
The credit monitoring through this company is free thanks to its relationships with credit card issuers and lenders. When you apply for a suggested offer, the issuer or lender pays for the referral.
7. Identity Guard
Identity Guard offers credit monitoring and identity theft protection plans. The $19.99/month Individual Total plan offers personal information alerts, including dark web monitoring and potential threat detection. It also includes three-bureau credit scores and report change alerts.
- Dark web alerts
- Potential threat detection by Watson Artificial Intelligence
- Monthly VantageScore 3.0 score based on TransUnion data
- Three-bureau credit change monitoring
In addition to the Individual Total features, the Individual Premier plan includes annual three-bureau credit reports, as well as a comprehensive social insight report that analyzes your Facebook timeline to assess your online image.
Why It’s Important to Monitor Your Credit Reports & Scores
Each credit-using consumer in the US has a credit report with at least one — but likely all — of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Those credit reports contain information about your credit use, payment history, and outstanding debts.
Credit scoring agencies, such as FICO and VantageScore, use the information in your credit reports to generate numerical credit scores that grade your level of credit risk. The higher the score, the lower the perceived credit risk.
These days, everyone from lenders to landlords can (and will) check your credit reports and scores whenever you fill out an application. This means that a low credit score can result in things like being rejected for a loan or charged a larger deposit to obtain a rental.
Given that your credit profile can have such a significant impact on your financial life, it’s vital that the information it contains is accurate and up to date. Errors, out-dated accounts, or fraudulent items can all negatively impact your credit reports and scores.
Regular monitoring can help catch mistakes before they cause a problem, whether you use a service to keep tabs on your credit or rely on a combination of annual credit reports and free scores from your credit cards.
If you choose to go the DIY route, there are a few options. You can do an annual analysis of your three credit reports for free, as you’re entitled to a free copy of your reports once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com.
However, most creditors will report to the credit bureaus roughly once a month, typically after your monthly statement or bill is issued. An easy way to keep abreast of changes to your credit reports between annual checks it to monitor your credit scores.
Most credit cards offer free monthly FICO credit scores, and many of them will also track your score over time on an easy-to-use chart or graph. If you notice drastic or unexpected changes to your credit score, it can be an indication that something major has changed on your reports.
Keep Your Identity Secure by Monitoring Your Credit
Much like a neglected yard, your credit profile can sprout any number of undesirable accounts if left untended for too long. Monitoring your credit, whether yourself or through a third-party service, is the best way to spot trouble before it has a chance to grow into a big problem.
Additionally, monitoring your credit can also be a simple way to spot identity theft or fraud. Many identity fraudsters are quick to open new accounts in your name, potentially preying on your good credit for their own nefarious purposes.
If you have an eye on your credit, however, you can find any unauthorized accounts and alert the necessary authorities quickly to help avoid a messy battle for your own identity.