What Are Credit Monitoring Services & How Do They Work?  

Many people make use of the credit monitoring services in order to be alerted to possible credit fraud and ultimately, reduce its negative effects on their finances. To ensure this level of protection, individuals to sign up for a service that will keep tabs on one or several of your major credit reports and notify you when there is a new account that is opened in your name, someone makes an inquiry to your file as well as when other possibly suspicious activities crop up. Most of the credit monitoring packages will also give you access to at least one of your credit scores and reports. For this reason, consumers usually make use of credit monitoring to keep track of their credit building progress.

Various companies are offering credit monitoring services which include the three primary credit bureaus as well as many of the major banks. It is not a big surprise that there is a big market for this kind of product since identity theft is becoming one of the most common complaints from consumers for many years.

Even though credit monitoring will not really prevent identity theft as well as other related loan or credit card loans, it still has the potential of alerting you regarding unauthorized access to your personal information before you start noticing a problem.

How It Works

Although logistics are basically provider specific, the credit monitoring services typically track your credit file and send your alerts when there are changes. Many of the companies are offering these notifications through a phone call, email, or text message, which depends on your preferences.

The forms of activities that credit monitoring services are going to bring to your attention include the following:

  • New Accounts

Credit reports note each time a new loan or credit card has been opened under your name. When there is a new account that appears on your file because of the mistake of the creditor or as the result of a fraudulent activity, it is better to know about it right away instead of waiting until you receive a bill through mail.

  • Hard Inquiries

Every time you apply for a loan or credit card, the respective financial institution is going to pull your main credit reports, which are referred to as a hard inquiry to your credit history. Any unexpected hard inquiry, like the ones that are not triggered by your application submission, is a sure sign of fraud. The identity thieves are well known for the use of the basic consumer data include the name, address and the Social Security number for opening financial accounts under the names of other people for them to rack up the costly charges and leave it up to the user to clean up the mess they did.

  • Changes to the Existing Accounts

You will also receive an alert when your credit report indicates a significant change in your payment and spending habits.

  • Changes in Address

A criminal who has the basic biographical information and access to one of your debit or credit cards can officially make changes to the address that you have on your file with the postal service so that they will receive your mail and have better control on your life. Most of the credit monitoring services are going to alert you about this kind of changes so that can easily straighten out the matter before things can get further complicated.

  • New Public Records

The information regarding bankruptcies, civil court judgments and tax liens is included on the consumer credit reports and while everyone will hope to spot an identity theft before it can even get this far, the credit monitoring service is going to alert you once someone encounters these forms of difficulties while still impersonating you.

The credit monitoring service is also going to notify you regarding these changes in a matter of 24 hours after they have noted your credit report, which will then fulfill its role as your official identity theft watchdog. As soon as you discover about the possible identity theft, it will be so much better so that you can also initiate the right damage control procedures before the fraud will wreak too much havoc on your financial files.

For the past few years, the companies have also come up with identity theft solutions which as far more comprehensive as compared to what you can get from the traditional services on credit monitoring. For instance, they might also monitor any sex offender registry, activities on your bank account, applications for payday loans, and more. The advent of this kind of services only underscore that there is indeed a growing concern among the consumers when it comes to identity theft in today’s personal financial environment that is becoming more electronic than ever.

The capacity of tracking the progress in credit improvement is also the other primary benefit that you can get out of the use of a credit monitoring service. These services will also provide you with better access to all your credit reports as opposed to just receiving one copy each year and possibly, you might also receive your credit scores at the same time. Most of the monitoring companies usually offer deals with certain credit score providers even though the scores that they will provide are not guaranteed to be the ones that are being used most often by the lenders. This will not just give you the chance of routinely parsing your files for any error for at the same time, this will also allow you to stay updated with your credit standing which will then improve how you are shopping for financial products and determine if the credit building efforts are needed.

As of this moment, some of the major players in the world of credit monitoring include TransUnion, Equifax, Experian, FICO which is a credit scoring company, most of the largest banks of the nation as well as niche businesses including Identity Guard, LifeLock and TrustedID.

Credit monitoring services are no doubt important to keep track of your finances so choose the one that will best suit you.

5 Simple Ways You Can Protect Your Credit

Protecting your credit from the harmful effects of identity theft, fraud, and errors is an essential consideration in the modern world, and there are several ways that you can make sure your personally identifying information is safe at all times. By being proactive with respect to your current credit report, you can address issues before they occur and ensure that your financial future has as good of an outlook as possible. Here are five ways you can keep your credit secure.

1. Shredding documents

Shredders are a cost-effective way to reduce the chances that identity thieves will find valuable information in your trash. A host of different thieves routinely comb through trash receptacles searching for your information that will be used to apply for loans with your name or get a credit card without your permission. Document shredders are designed to quickly turn old credit cards, bank information and junk mail into a pile of paperwork that is totally illegible. Making sure that your children are also safe is an imperative, and you can easily shred any papers that contain information about any of the members in your family.

2. Receiving free credit reports

Everyone is entitled to a review of their annual credit report from the three major credit reporting bureaus. Even if you’re used to checking your report on a regular basis, you can probably ensure security by receiving your report from each bureau every four months. By providing you with the details that let you dispute errors or prevent identity theft, you can take a positive step and work to make sure that your credit score is always as high as possible. Credit reports contain detailed information about any outstanding loans that have been issued in your name, and by regularly reviewing your credit score, you can be sure that nobody else is using your information to purchase goods or services.

3. Monitoring your credit score

With a host of different ways to make sure that you’re always aware of any changes in your credit history, you can also prevent most expensive damage from occurring. Several firms offer easy ways to keep up to date with your credit history by monitoring all related activity and make sure that you can easily note any errors and dispute transactions that were incurred without your knowledge.

4. Using fraud alerts

Credit fraud alerts are another way to make sure that nobody has access to your personal or commercial line of credit. The alerts are easily added to your credit report, and they are used to notify potential creditors and lenders about issues before they arise. Fraud alerts help to make sure lenders must verify your identification before they provide anyone with an open line of credit or a loan in your name.

5. Keeping your information safe

By working with trusted sites and vendors who have earned a stellar reputation, you can be sure that while you’re shopping on the Internet, your information is safe from prying eyes. Sites that are secure should have an “http,” at the top of the page. This means that the Web page is certified by a trusted company. In addition, you can look for icons that may be visible at the bottom of a page. Checking for information that is contained in reviews from other consumers allows you to gain a deeper understanding about the possibilities that a particular site is going to use your information to benefit from your outstanding credit history.

Keeping your credit secure is easier when you know the options that are at your disposal. By implementing the above five tips into your daily lifestyle, you can create a positive financial future.

ProtectMyID Review

How Does ProtectMyID Stack Up Against Other Credit Monitoring Services?

If you are look­ing for an advan­tage when it comes to have your iden­tity pro­tected, then you might con­sider join­ing up with Pro­tect­MyID. Why? They are a part of the fam­ily of ser­vices that are pro­vided by Exper­ian Online, mean­ing that they have a direct link to your credit pro­file and infor­ma­tion. Com­bine iden­tity pro­tec­tion with the spe­cific ana­lyt­i­cal tools that have caused Exper­ian to grow into a bil­lion dol­lar com­pany serv­ing cus­tomers in 80 coun­tries, and you’ve got your­self a pow­er­ful iden­tity pro­tec­tion part­ner on your side.

How Does Pro­tect­MyID Mon­i­tor Your Identity?

Sur­veil­lance Alert is an e-mail and SMS alert appli­ca­tion that mon­i­tors your credit report for over 50 dif­fer­ent types of indi­ca­tors for pos­si­ble iden­tity theft. Some com­mon exam­ples that you would be able to see would be if an account was sent to a col­lec­tion agency, whether a new loan was opened up under your name, or if some­one was try­ing to open up lines of unse­cured credit – like with a credit card.

This credit sur­veil­lance is par­tic­u­larly good in elim­i­nat­ing a new type of iden­tity theft that is intended to help pay some­one else’s med­ical bills. By sub­mit­ting your iden­tity to a hos­pi­tal or a clinic, the hos­pi­tal will begin billing you and poten­tially your insur­ance for ser­vices. Pro­tect­MyID mon­i­tors daily for changes in your credit reports and can help stop med­ical fraud as soon as it is discovered.

 

SSN Mon­i­tor­ing

Pro­tect­MyID also mon­i­tors for the intro­duc­tion of your Social Secu­rity num­ber into sources where iden­tity thieves might be able to access it. Think of it as check­ing the “iden­tity theft black mar­ket” for your per­son­ally iden­ti­fy­ing num­ber. This helps to keep your core iden­ti­fi­ca­tion mate­ri­als safer from com­pro­mise than just by mon­i­tor­ing the inter­net for events that have occurred after your num­ber has been stolen.

Change of Address Monitoring

One of the com­mon ways that thieves start plant­ing the seed for an iden­tity theft inci­dent is when a thief sub­mits a change of address card at the post office, which then directs your mail to the thief. Pro­tect­MyID mon­i­tors change of address noti­fi­ca­tions at the national level and noti­fies you if some­thing unusual hap­pens with your address.

Chil­dren and Family

Pro­tect­MyID also offers pro­grams that help to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of your chil­dren and advice on how to pro­tect loved ones that may have passed away.

How Does the Pro­tect­MyID Alert Sys­tem Work?

Pro­tect­MyID pri­mar­ily uti­lizes e-mail and SMS texts to alert their cus­tomers that there is a pos­si­ble iden­tity theft that has been iden­ti­fied. These alerts occur the moment there is new data added to your iden­tity, which then allows you to be able to deter­mine if that new data is autho­rized or not. If you do not have any new data added within a month’s period, then you receive an all clear e-mail from ProtectMyID.

Pro­tect­MyID also offers a mobile app for smart­phone users that shows a list of all alerts that have been received. It also lets you take an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion theft risk assess­ment so that your cur­rent lifestyle and habits can be eval­u­ated and pos­si­bly improved. You also receive one touch assis­tance to get in touch with a Theft Res­o­lu­tion Agent should you encounter an alert that you feel needs to be investigated.

Recov­ery Assis­tance from ProtectMyID

Since Pro­tect­MyID is part of Exper­ian, their res­o­lu­tion ser­vices con­nect the cus­tomer with the best spe­cial­ists in the field for repair­ing the dam­age done by iden­tity theft. Being part of this exclu­sive credit agency group means that res­o­lu­tion spe­cial­ists know where to go and what to do in order to pro­tect you from any fur­ther damage.

Pro­tect­MyID offers users a $1,000,000 insur­ance pol­icy against an iden­tity theft inci­dent and a $2,000,000 pol­icy for every child’s iden­tity theft event that occurs while cov­ered with a valid pro­gram. This helps to pay up to a month’s worth of lost wages, for fill­ing out the paper­work required to restore your iden­tity, legal costs, com­pen­sa­tion for unau­tho­rized money trans­fers, and any costs for a pri­vate investigator.

Pro­tect­MyID is Easy to Use!

Set­ting up your iden­tity pro­tec­tion through Pro­tect­MyID is sim­ple. All you need to do is fill out your per­sonal infor­ma­tion into their secure data­base, and then Pro­tect­MyID does the rest. You get access to the impor­tant num­bers that you need to con­tact a Theft Res­o­lu­tion Agent, a free mobile app, and alerts sent directly to your e-mail or by SMS text if you choose that method to know when some­thing nefar­i­ous is going on. Mem­ber­ship also gives you access to the Exper­ian set of finan­cial tools that can help you grow your net worth.

Addi­tional Tools and Features

Lost Wal­let Protection

This is prob­a­bly one of the scari­est of inci­dents when you lose your wal­let with all your credit cards, med­ical IDs, social secu­rity num­ber, driver’s license, and any num­ber of other impor­tant doc­u­ments. All of these cards could be used mali­ciously by the iden­tity thief. If you have ever lost a wal­let, you know you will be mak­ing a lot of phone calls to can­cel credit cards, get new insur­ance cards, and order replace­ment debit cards.

Child Secure

Dur­ing the lull between when your child is born and when they reach their early adult years, an iden­tity thief can get the child’s social secu­rity num­ber and do many dam­ag­ing things with it. The worst part is that it often goes unde­tected for years since no thinks to check their child’s credit report.

Pric­ing & Value

You can sign up today for Pro­tect­MyID for just $15.95/month. You can click here to sign up for a $1.00 / 7 Day trial and only pay $19.95/month after.  Chil­dren can be added through Child­Se­cure for an addi­tional $6.95/month per child.

You can enroll today with Pro­tect­MyID to start securing your identity

Pro­tect Your Credit Today

Though Pro­tect­MyID may not give you access to free credit scores, they do give you ben­e­fits in other ways with pro­tec­tions of your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion mate­ri­als that other orga­ni­za­tions do not. With the Exper­ian rela­tion­ship, you also have a direct link to your credit report so that you have an imme­di­ate knowl­edge of any poten­tial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion theft events. This allows you to be able to be more proac­tive in pro­tect­ing your­self. If you’re look­ing for a fast and afford­able way to pro­tect all of your assets, Pro­tect­MyID is the com­pany for you. Enroll today and expe­ri­ence iden­tity pro­tec­tion the Exper­ian way!

Citi Credit Monitoring Services Review

Update:  The Citi Credit Monitoring Service Program was terminated 3-31-2015.  

We recommend you look at our LifeLock monitoring review as an alternative to the Citi monitoring plan.

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor is a ser­vice pro­vided by Citibank. Citibank has been in busi­ness for the past 200 years thanks to its abil­ity to do busi­ness through what they call Respon­si­ble Finance. What this means to Citibank is that they have invested hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars into small busi­nesses, infra­struc­ture, and other choice oppor­tu­ni­ties to help the aver­age con­sumer be able to work for them­selves, pro­tect them­selves, and achieve any­thing they wish to achieve. Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor comes under the realm of pro­tec­tion for CitiBank cus­tomers, but is avail­able for any­one who is wish­ing to have credit and iden­tity theft protections.

Daily Mon­i­tor­ing for Daily Results

The key to being able to catch an iden­tity thief in the act is to mon­i­tor your infor­ma­tion on a daily basis. Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor does this through credit monitoring reports every day to deter­mine if any changes have been made to crit­i­cal com­po­nents, such as your address, your delin­quent accounts, or new lines of credit, whether secured or unsecured.

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor also helps you have a hand in keep­ing your iden­tity safe by pro­vid­ing you a com­plete credit report and credit score analy­sis upon sign­ing up for their iden­tity theft pro­tec­tion ser­vices. You then get access to this infor­ma­tion for free on a monthly basis. This allows you to man­u­ally review your credit infor­ma­tion to insure that all the infor­ma­tion shown is autho­rized by you.

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor Gives You Effec­tive Alerts

If Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor detects infor­ma­tion that may cause an iden­tity theft to poten­tially occur or believes that a theft has already occurred, then you will be noti­fied via the Notify Express sys­tem that Citibank has set up. This alert sys­tem lets you know when there is any change to your infor­ma­tion that may be an indi­ca­tor of fraud. You can also be noti­fied in the way that works the best for you: through stan­dard U.S. mail, e-mail, text mes­sages, or by a phone call.

Get the Sup­port That You Need

With an Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor sub­scrip­tion, you get around the clock access to your credit infor­ma­tion with a sim­ple log-in. Some folks have ques­tions about what it takes to ade­quately keep their iden­ti­ties and credit safe, If you believe that you have been the vic­tim of iden­tity theft, you also have imme­di­ate access to Citi’s Iden­tity Theft Solu­tions department.

Should you become the vic­tim of iden­tity theft, you have access to a $10,000 – $25,000 insur­ance pol­icy in most states to help you be able to work to recover your iden­tity. This can help you to be able to defend your­self effec­tively, cover the costs of restor­ing your iden­tity, and even cover lost wages that may occur while you are work­ing to restore your iden­tity. It may not be as much as the insur­ance poli­cies of other com­pa­nies, but unlike other iden­tity theft poli­cies, there is no limit to the amount of claims that you can have. Each claim you make gives you access to another policy!

Sign­ing Up for Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor is Easy!

You can sign up today for Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor with­out being a mem­ber of Citibank! All you have to do is fill out your per­sonal infor­ma­tion and once you’ve agreed to the terms and con­di­tions, you’ll have instant access to your Exper­ian credit infor­ma­tion. A sim­ple and free upgrade is all that is required to get all three of the major credit bureau’s infor­ma­tion about you around the clock.

Pric­ing & Value

Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor offers only one plan of ser­vice that cov­ers daily mon­i­tor­ing of your credit infor­ma­tion and assis­tance in restor­ing your iden­tity. You can try Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor for the first 30 days for just $1, and then after­wards is $12.95/month. It should be noted that Citibank, in their terms and con­di­tions, state that they can mod­ify or can­cel the Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor pro­gram, includ­ing a change in the price of the pro­gram, with­out noti­fy­ing you about these changes.

Pro­tect Your Iden­tity & Your Credit Today

Thanks to the Fed­eral bailout, Citibank is more sta­ble than ever when it comes to being able to pro­vide an essen­tial ser­vice to its cus­tomers. Becom­ing a cus­tomer of Citibank to make sure your credit and iden­tity are effec­tively cov­ered puts a bank on your side when it comes to fight­ing for you. Try out Iden­ti­ty­Mon­i­tor today for just a buck and dis­cover how good it feels know­ing that your iden­tity and your credit are in safe hands.

Family Credit Monitoring Plans

Don’t Put Off Protecting Your Family Any Longer

If you have a household of 2 adults and 3 children, purchasing an individual credit monitoring plan for each will run you well over $100/month.  This just isn’t feasible for most families who want some peace of mind with a good, comprehensive credit & identity monitoring service.  Now you can protect your entire family for less than $30 per month.  With child identity theft becoming more prevalent than adult ID theft, it’s crucial that even young children have identity protection & monitoring in place.  One incident of identity theft can ruin their credit for years to come.

Family Protection Plan

Right now, the most affordable family credit monitoring plan is offered by IdentityGuard. The price is $27.99/month and this covers 2 adults + up to 15 children.  Some of the features included with the family monitoring plan are:

  • Social Security Monitoring
  • Online “Black Market” Monitoring
  • ID Verification Alerts
  • 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring
  • Credit Scores*
  • Identity Theft Victim Assistance
  • $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance**
  • Child identity monitoring (kID Sure®)

Couples Protection Plan

If you don’t necessarily need a plan that covers multiple children, but just yourself your significant other, IdentityGuard has a couples plan as well.  This plan is $26.99/month and monitors the following list of items;

  • Social Security Monitoring
  • Online “Black Market” Monitoring
  • ID Verification Alerts
  • 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring
  • Credit Scores*
  • Identity Theft Victim Assistance
  • $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance**

I’ve reviewed all of the IdentityGuard services and compared them to other top monitoring plans from companies such as LifeLock, TransUnion, Experian and many more.  IdentityGuard is hands down the most comprehensive credit monitoring service provider on the market.  They offer the best value, highest customer satisfaction ratings, top BBB ratings and numerous awards for their protection & monitoring plans.  If you need a simple, affordable solution for monitoring multiple social security numbers, you’re not going to go wrong with the 2 IdentityGuard plans.

 

Credit Monitoring Services Review

Credit monitoring services scrutinize a consumer’s credit report at one or all three credit bureaus for a monthly fee, alerting the consumer to late payment items, identity thefts, inquiries from potential creditors and employers, and any other credit report changes. The pros and cons of this service are fiercely debated. But there is much to be said for the advantages of employing a credit monitoring service. The consumer’s credit score is a number that extends into all aspects of an individual’s financial life; guarding that number and improving it can amount to large savings over a lifetime. And with finances being a rather complicated affair for most people, negative items and mistakes can appear on credit reports that can go under the radar of the less than attentive, and credit monitoring is an astute defense against identity theft. Furthermore, a credit monitoring service can be instrumental to the consumer in reaching the highest category of creditworthiness where the best financial terms are offered.

Necessary or unnecessary service

Critics of credit monitoring usually state that it is an unnecessary service since consumers can keep track of their own credit reports. They point out that a consumer can receive a free credit report staggered over the year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—and become aware of any mistakes or problems which develop.

Following that track leaves many loopholes in credit monitoring where all sorts of problems can arise. As credit reports are known to be error prone,   negative items such as late payments and account mistakes can sabotage job prospects for employment seekers. Large charges to credit cards can lower credit scores at the most inopportune times, causing rate changes on new loan applications. Identity theft may be occurring with fraudulent new accounts opened up under the consumer’s name, when immediate notification to the consumer is the most urgent. Looking at each report only once a year leaves these gaps which can be costly to the consumer.

Credit monitoring is a superb educational tool to gaining greater insight to one’s financial affairs and as a result leads to greater abilities to manage those affairs. Monitoring one’s credit through a service will allow for immediate feedback to the consumer of results for car loans, mortgage loans, and credit card applications. The credit score numbers will fluctuate in response to additions and deletions in the report, educating consumers in ways to better manage their finances. Also, credit monitoring services offer many online resources to help the consumer expand their financial know how.

Saving money with credit monitoring

Most credit monitoring services will cost the consumer between $10 and $20 a month, adding up to $120 to $240 for the year. It might seem like a high cost, but when consumers consider the benefits of a service, it can actually save them money. The consumer is given the tools to improve his or her credit score, and the savings can be in the hundreds and thousands of dollars. With a credit score of 760 or better, the consumer will receive the best available interest rates. In the case of a mortgage over a period of 30 years, this can amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Also, car and life insurance rates are partially dependent on a consumer’s credit scores, where the impact will again be reflected in substantial savings if the credit score can be boosted into the excellent category. When all these benefits are considered over the financial lifetime of a consumer, identity theft protection reviews excellent value for a minuscule cost.

Credit monitoring and identity theft

With the rise of identity theft crimes every year and the proliferation of new ways to steal it, everyone agrees vigilance is definitely needed to protect against the illegal use of credit information. Critics of these services say credit monitoring does not stop identity theft, and they are right, since nothing can guarantee 100% protection against identity theft. What credit monitoring services offer is immediate alerts that something is amiss when new credit accounts or address changes have appeared. With this knowledge, the consumer can immediately put a fraud alert or a freeze on an account. So many ID thefts go on for weeks or even months because the consumer is unaware until he or she receives billing statements or other indications of wrongdoing long after they have occurred. ID thieves often change the victim’s address, so incriminating billing statements are redirected to another location. If the consumer becomes the victim of identity theft, most credit monitoring services provide insurance protection and legal services to help the consumer. All in all, credit monitoring is a top defense to guard the consumer’s interests against the illegal activities of criminals.

 

How to Choose the Best Credit Monitoring Services

The term “data breach” has unfortunately become part of the vernacular of hundreds of millions of Americans in the last year. Target, Home Depot, and even banking giant JP Morgan Chase have had sensitive customer information stolen by hackers. Add to that the Edward Snowden revelation that its own government is spying on them, and it’s not an understatement to say that individual concerns about identity theft are at an all-time high in the U.S. Interest in credit monitoring services has risen accordingly.

What Do Credit Monitoring Services Do?

While the features offered by credit monitoring services will vary, they basically track your credit report at one or more of the three big credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Depending on your preference, they will promptly notify you via a test message, an e-mail or an old-fashioned letter when they uncover unusual activity as it pertains to your account. They may also provide easy access to your credit report, assist you if fraud has been detected, and even reimburse you for some out-of-pocket expenses you’ve incurred directly related to fighting the fraudster.

What Benefits Do They Provide?

Credit monitoring services can be used to catch errors, improve your score or keep an eye out for fraud. For instance, if someone were to use your stolen personal information to apply for a new credit card in your name, the monitoring service would pick this up and send you an alert. However, if someone were to try to use your information to get a job or a cell phone, something that wouldn’t necessarily trigger a credit check with the reporting agencies, a basic credit monitoring service won’t be able to know. For this reason, more providers are now offering more comprehensive monitoring. The top-of-the-line plans can use Social Security number monitoring to check public records, databases and websites for use of your personal information.

The single biggest reason to use a credit monitoring service, however, often goes unnoticed. While most people understand the importance of their credit score, few really understand what goes into compiling it. Regularly reviewing your credit history leads to better credit knowledge, being cognizant of how your behavior, be it applying for that department store card, getting a car loan, or knocking down a big chunk of credit card debt, impacts your credit rating. If as they say, knowledge is power, then knowledge of how your actions impact your credit score can put you in charge of your financial well-being.

What Are The Best Credit Monitoring Services Available Today?

identity guard id theft protectionIdentity Guard and LifeLock are two of the better known credit monitoring services. Each offers different package and pricing options. Generally speaking, Identity Guard’s top-of-the line package is considered superior for those who can afford it. It’ll cost you a couple hundred bucks a year. However, Identity Guard monitors all three major credit bureaus for changes to your reports, and it monitors personal information like how your name and Social Security number are being used across thousands of databases.  It’s one of the most respected identity protection services on the market.   Read more about IdentityGuard.com here.

life lock ultimateLifeLock goes a bit beyond in the sense that they monitor other publicly available information about you. If one of the bad guys attempts to steal information pertaining to your loans or leases, your criminal record or your driver’s license and insurance, for instance, LifeLock Ultimate can alert you before it becomes a serious problem. If you’re undergoing a background check for a new job, for example, having access to this information is something you can control. LifeLock, however, does not regularly monitor all three major credit reporting agencies. For better or worse, it has decided to exclusively  use the TransUnion bureau.  For this reason, I prefer the IdentityGuard.com service over LifeLock.  See more about LifeLock plans here.

Tips For Choosing a Service

Knowing who is doing the monitoring is important. In addition to companies like Identity Guard and Life Lock that do so directly, banks and credit unions, and the credit bureaus themselves, all offer monitoring services. It’s possible that the entity that is selling the service is actually farming out the actual work to another entity. It’s good to know exactly who’s doing the work before signing up for any monitoring service. Similarly, it’s important to look at the longevity of the company, and be wary of any company that offers very little background information.

Not unlike any other service offering, be wary of companies that make over-the-top promises. If those promises sound too good to be true, they probably are. In particular, it’s important to be wary of claims that a company can prevent identity theft. No credit monitoring service can do that. What they can do is be on the lookout for suspicious activity, and notify you promptly if they spot any.

The Bottom Line

It never hurts to check with the Better Business Bureau or your state’s Attorney General office to verify the legitimacy of a credit monitoring service before signing up for one. While fear-mongering is the antidote for nothing, hard times, whether they are of your own creation or the result of outside influences, need to be dealt with. The 2008 financial crisis has resulted in an environment where credit precautions have become a necessity for many.

Are Credit Monitoring Services Worth the Price?


Identity theft
is a serious issue that impacts millions of people each year. Identity theft is a crime where criminals use a person’s name, Social Security number, birthdate and other personal information for financial gain. A thief may take money from a victim in many different ways. For example, a thief may directly take money from a victim’s bank account, fraudulently use a victim’s credit card or even obtain a loan under the victim’s name. Victims of identity theft have even been arrested by police due to the actions of the thief when using the victim’s name. The average victim of identity theft suffers financial losses of about $6,000 and spends many stressful hours trying to resolve the issues.

In the past, identity thieves would obtain use of another person’s identity by stealing mail, sorting through trash or by using other similar means. However, as more people became aware of these tactics, people began shredding bank statements and other documents containing personal information to prevent this type of theft. Though these traditional types of theft still happen, thieves are now more likely to steal information through electronic means. Modern thieves, who are technologically savvy, can hack into the computer systems of banks, retailers and even government offices to remotely steal information with little chance of being caught. Thieves can also intercept information via the use of skimmers at gas pumps, ATM machines or other locations where people use credit and debit cards.

credit monitoring services reviewThe bad news is that there is little that consumers can do for themselves to reduce the likelihood of being a victim of identity theft through computer hacking. A consumer can closely monitor his or her bank accounts and credit reports, but this will only provide them with information on things that have already happened. The delay in noticing the problem could result in dire financial consequences for the consumer. However, consumers are not powerless against modern identity thieves. There are a number of companies that offer identity theft protection services to consumers. These companies provide a range of services designed to protect consumers from becoming identity theft victims.

Though there are some differences from one company to another, most identity theft companies provide similar basic services to their customers. Companies will provide an alert to their customers when someone pulls data from the customer’s credit report. For example, if a thief tries to apply for a credit card in the customer’s name, the credit monitoring service would alert their customer when the credit card company made a request to one of the credit bureaus. Companies providing protection services also typically provide an agent to assist customers with an identity theft issue and provide some level of insurance protection against financial loss. Most also provide assistance notifying banks or other financial institutions when a customer’s wallet is lost or stolen.

Beyond the basics, the major credit monitoring services provide a number of different services. For example, LifeLock’s premium service provides their customers with three credit reports and credit scores each year, monthly credit score reports and alerts for changes to checking, savings and retirement accounts. Identity Guard provides their customers with public record monitoring and spyware protection to reduce the chances of identity thieves stealing information from their customer’s personal computer. LifeLock and Identity Guard’s basic plans start out at about $10 per month. LifeLock’s premium service is about $25 per month and Identity Guard’s is about $30 per month.

Credit monitoring services are also available from the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The monitoring services provided by the credit bureaus are not as extensive as those from the other companies that specialize in credit monitoring. However, the credit bureau’s do provide access to credit reports and provide consumers with activity alerts for about half of the cost of the other credit monitoring services.

While the protection and alert features of credit monitoring services can protect consumers from becoming victims, perhaps the most important feature of the full service plans is the assistance they provide in the event that a problem occurs. Having a real person to help notify banks, correct information with the credit bureaus and even provide information to the police, is a service that can save a person a lot of time and stress. As most people lead busy lives and do not have the time to monitor their accounts on a daily basis or deal with the expense and hassle of becoming an identity theft victim, the small cost of paying for a credit monitoring service can buy a lot of peace of mind.

Identity Guard Review

Review of Identity Guard Services & Features

Identity Guard is one of the most popular and highest rated identity protection/credit monitoring services on the market.  It ranked #1 on the Kiplinger Financial Magazine’s Top Identity Theft Protection Services list and has won numerous other awards for it’s protection and customer satisfaction. The company’s protection services are based on their three tier approach of Monitor, Protect and Recover*.

Protection Services

  • Monitor: use of technology to monitor personal and financial information in order to provide credit, public record and identity monitoring with prompt security alerts regarding potential threats to your identity which can be delivered via email, text or phone.
  • Protect: provides anti-virus software for your computer, and keystroke encryption to allow safe browsing of the internet; their program ID Vault* helps protect logins, passwords and credit card information on your most visited shopping and member sites.
  • Recover: in case your identity is stolen during your membership, Identity Guard will provide personal recovery assistance that puts you in contact with experts and counselors, and offers identity theft insurance and lost wallet protection.

Plan Levels & Pricing

Identity Guard offers three membership level for their individual (single social security number) plans:

The Essentials membership is $9.99 per month and excludes certain features such as public record monitoring, anti-virus software, and password protection, and only provides consumers with 1 credit score report per month;

The Total Protection membership, at $19.99 per month, provides members with all of the services from the Essentials plan, as well as credit scores from all three credit bureaus;

The Platinum membership costs $24.99 per month and provides all of the services of the Total Protection level plus adds a bonus child security feature (kID Sure*) that helps protect your child’s identity. Their free mobile app is a nice added feature for those consumers who are serious about guarding their identity and protecting their credit.

You can save $3.00/month of the IdentityGuard.com homepage price when you sign up through StopIdentityFraud.org

When you sign up for your free 30 day trial, your monthly subscription will automatically begin at the end of those 30 days, unless you cancel your membership.

Couples & Family Plans

Identity Guard recently released 2 new plans that help make credit monitoring more affordable for families of all sizes.

Couples Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults in the same household. $26.99/month ($6.99/month savings)

Family Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults and up to 15 children in a single household. $27.99/month.

The only downside to these plans is that they don’t offer a free 30 day trial.  But IdentityGuard is has a proven track record as being one of the most trusted identity protection & monitoring companies.  If you want to monitor multiple social security numbers, you won’t go wrong with either of these plans.

Our Conclusion

IdentityGuard is hands down the most comprehensive identity & credit monitoring service on the market today.  With monthly subscription pricing for nearly every budget, a high level of customer service and an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, you should put IdentityGuard at the very top of your list when shopping for identity protection.