Credit monitoring services represent a bridge between the finance and personal security industries. Customers enlist the help of a monitoring service in order to track credit history and guard against potential fraud. The idea sounds pretty simple, but there’s more to these credit protection services than you might expect.
About credit monitoring services
To clear up any confusion, credit bureaus are the organizations that actually come up with your credit report. Monitoring services, on the other hand, aren’t always part of bureaus. Sometimes, they’re entirely separate agencies that analyze your report and notify you in the event of any new activity or suspicious transactions. There are three major credit bureaus in the United States, but there are many more monitoring services.
Still, even with all of the options out there, some card owners elect to go without this service. Some consumers may have reservations about the monthly fees, etc.
Why get credit report monitoring?
- Professional services add another layer of protection to your personal data. It never hurts to have backup.
- Credit reports are quick and easy. Instead of contacting one of the bureaus, you can just review your credit monitoring account information.
- A monitoring service could actually save you money down the line if it helps you avoid hiring a pricey financial planner.
- Credit monitoring usually isn’t free. Be prepared to dedicate a portion of your budget to paying for it.
- Not everyone is convinced that professional monitoring is necessary. If you’re willing to invest the time, the argument goes, you can study a lot of the same stats and trends on your own.
- Some services are more reliable than others. Be very careful when you’re choosing one.
- It is a reactive service, so it only catches damage once it has already been done. It can take weeks, or even months, for something to show up on your credit report. If you are looking for a more proactive solution, you may want to check out identity theft protection companies. Some of these companies can help you detect fraud before it ever reaches your credit report.
Finding the right service
If you’re concerned about your next credit report, services are readily available. But if you’ve decided to pursue that course of action, it’s very important to choose the right company – you don’t want to get involved with a cut-rate service.
Look out for the companies offering “free” service. Many times, these no-fee plans come with a catch – they may not base their scores on the industry standard, or you may actually be signing up for a paid plan in the fine print.
A good service won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and can keep track of your reports with speed and accuracy. Additionally, a good service provider’s first priority is always protecting your identity. In the instance that your account numbers are stolen, you’ll want a provider that issues a fraud alert the moment a suspicious purchase or cash withdrawal is detected. Monitoring services aren’t for everyone, but they’re certainly worth checking out if you’re worried about managing multiple cards or accounts.