Updated 5-8-2017 by Jenn Price

This year, 1 in 4 Americans will be a victim of identity theft. Credit monitoring service alerts allow you to find out your identity was stolen within hours…not days or even weeks. It’s not a matter of if, but when, all of us will have our identities stolen and used fraudulently.  It’s time for everyone to start thinking proactively and get prepared! I reviewed over 20 monitoring services that feature multiple plan options, comprehensive credit report monitoring + identity theft protection, credit score access, and theft insurance. These are the 5 that made the list.

The 5 Best Credit Monitoring Services

  1. Identity Protect

  2. IdentityForce.com

  3. LifeLock.com

  4. TransUnion

  5. Experian.com


#1 Identity Protect The Best Consumer Credit Monitoring Service In 2017

identity protect logoWe ranked Identity Protect as our top credit monitoring pick for 2017. Identity Protect is a excellent new service that gives you a superior set of tools to monitor your financial profile and keep your identity safer through offensive dark web monitoring, daily 3 bureau credit report monitoring, change of address reporting and much more. What’s impressive about Identity Protect is the level of features you get even on their standard ($9.16/month) monitoring plan.  In addition to the features I already listed, you also have access to identity theft recovery specialists, should your identity be stolen as well as social security trace reports, to see if any one is using your social security number without your knowledge.

I highly suggest paying a little bit more and signing up for the Ultimate Plan, where you also get 1 million dollars loss protection insurance, military grade password & account encryption, spouse & child coverage, social media reputation monitoring and investment account monitoring.  With the Identity Protect plans, you get a ton of features for a very affordable price.  This is definitely the best value for the money of all credit monitoring & identity protection plans on the market.

Top Service Features*

  • 3 bureau credit monitoring
  • Credit fraud consultation
  • Change of address monitoring
  • Social Security trace report
  • ID Theft recovery specialists
  • Loss protection guarantee
  • Trans Union credit score tracker
  • Credit reports from all 3 bureaus
  • Password encryption
  • Investment account monitoring
  • Credit score “what if” simulator
  • Social media reputation monitoring
  • Dark web & court record monitoring

Plan Pricing

  • Basic Plan – $9.16 / month
  • Advantage Plan – $18.32 /month
  • *Ultimate Plan – $27.49 / month

Visit IdentityProtect.com Today & Save 10% Off An Annual Plan


#2 IdentityForce.com

IdentityForce.com is ranked 2nd on our list. With a 3 level approach to identity theft protection; Monitor, Alert & Control, IdentityForce.com provides the extra set of eyes keeping watch over your identity, privacy and credit. IdentityForce uses innovative monitoring technology which allows them to take a more proactive approach to id theft detection. This broad spectrum coverage encompasses change of address monitoring, court record monitoring, credit report monitoring, identity monitoring, sex offender list monitoring and even payday loan monitoring. If any suspicious activities are detected on these accounts, immediate alerts are sent to your phone or email. All plans include daily 3 bureau monitoring, credit score tracker, identity health score, junk mail opt-out and medical id fraud alerting.

IdentityForce also helps you take full control of your credit, by letting you know who, where and how your personal information is being used at any given time. As with the previous services you can be eligible for up to 1 million dollars in id theft insurance if your identity is stolen and personal credit restoration assistance support. You also receive free anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software to help keep your identity safe while shopping and browsing online. This can proactively protect your usernames, passwords, pin numbers, bank account details and much more. IdentityForce.com is a trusted and respected company and we were very impressed with the level of credit report monitoring protection and the affordability of their two packages.

Service Features

  • Monitoring from trusted major credit bureau
  • 3 bureau credit monitoring
  • Transunion credit report access
  • Lost wallet protection
  • Credit file change alerting
  • Personalized credit analysis tools
  • 1 million dollars id theft insurance
  • $1.00 7 Day Trial / $19.95 Monthly Subscription Price

 

Click Here to Visit IdentityForce.com & Start Your 7 Day Trial


#3 Lifelock.com

 LifeLock is a trusted identity protection company who utilizes a 5 point protection plan to monitor over one million data points on your three credit bureaus, credit scores, social security number, investment accounts and public records. This is what makes LifeLock one of the most complete monitoring solutions available with highly proactive identity protection. The moment you sign up for a LifeLock account, they immediately begin monitoring your identity for threats against your personal information. If threats are detected, you will be alerted quickly via text, email or phone. Again, quick alerting is of the utmost importance. LifeLock gives you the upper hand so you can stop id theft threats before major damage is done. LifeLock also offers LifeLock Jr. which is an add on service that lets you monitor your child’s credit reports. Child identity theft is actually becoming more common that adult identity theft.

You receive up to 1 million dollars in identity theft loss insurance, 24/7 customer service and a personal recovery assistant to work with you should your identity be compromised. The only thing I don’t like about the LifeLock service is that you only get access to your 3 bureau credit reports and scores when you sign up for the most expensive, Ultimate Plus plan. Definitely not a deal breaker by any means because LifeLock.com features 3 levels of monitoring plans which work with all budgets.

Service Features

  • 5 point protection plan that monitors 1 million data points
  • Credit score, report & social security number monitoring
  • Monthly 3 bureau credit report access
  • Fast fraud alerting
  • Deep web identity monitoring
  • LifeLock Jr. child id protection add-on
  • 1 million dollars id theft insurance**
  • Free 30 Day Trial / 10% Off Monthly Subscription Price

Click Here to Visit LifeLock.com & Get Protected!


#4 Experian CreditWorks

Experian CrediWorks gives you complete access to your Experian credit reports & FICO score, along with change of address alerting,internet scanning & surveillance alerts and daily credit report monitoring.

The Experian plans also offer pro­grams that help to pro­tect the iden­ti­ties of your chil­dren and advice on how to pro­tect loved ones that may have passed away. Though Experian may not give you access to free credit scores, they do give you ben­e­fits in other ways with pro­tec­tion 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.

$1 million identity theft insurance and rapid theft resolution are just part of the Experian credit monitoring service. The biggest benefit of this plan is that you have a monitoring plan with a national credit bureau that’s been in business for nearly 60 years and serves nearly 220 U.S. consumers annually. Stop identity theft in its tracks – start your 7-day trial by purchasing a $1 credit report with enrollment in Experian CreditWorks.

Service Features

  • Run by the trusted Experian credit bureau
  • 3 bureau report & score monitoring
  • Experian credit report & FICO Score access
  • Credit report change alerts
  • Internet scanning & id surveillance alerts
  • 60+ years experience & 220 million customers
  • 1 million dollars id theft insurance
  • $1.00 7 Day Trial / $21.95 Monthly Subscription Price

 

Click Here to Visit Experian CreditWorks & Start Your 7 Day Trial


#5 TransUnion

TransUnion is one of the major credit reporting bureaus and also offers quality 3 bureau credit report monitoring.  Their protection plans include public record monitoring, lost wallet protection, credit file change alerts, full credit report access an ID restoration assistance.  You will receive instant email alerts if someone applies for credit in your name plus you receive a personalized debt analysis and credit trend report, so you can keep on top of your spending and credit rating.  Add in a $1 million dollar ID theft insurance plan and this is an excellent identity monitoring option from a trusted company.

The TransUnion monthly subscription costs $17.95, which is about the average price for most monitoring plans. However, for that price I think there are better options that will include more detailed monitoring, alerting and credit tools. With no access to Experian or Equifax credit reports as well as no FICO score availability, we would recommend this service only to those are are concerned solely with their TransUnion specific reports & information.

You can start your 7 day TransUnion trial monitoring plan for only $1.00. Monthly cost is $17.95 after the trial period.

Service Features

  • Credit report monitoring from trusted, major credit bureau
  • 3 bureau credit report monitoring
  • Transunion credit report access
  • Lost wallet protection
  • Credit file change alerting
  • Personalized credit analysis tools
  • 1 million dollars id theft insurance
  • $1.00 7 Day Trial / $19.95 Monthly Subscription Price

 

Click Here to Visit TransUnion.com & Start Your 7 Day Trial


What Is Credit Monitoring?

It’s very likely that you’re here researching credit monitoring services and trying to determine which is the best option for you. This is an extremely smart decision. You’ve undoubtedly worked extremely hard to build solid finances and a good credit rating. Identity theft can make all of your efforts disappear very quickly. This is exactly why I’m such a huge advocate of everyone signing up for some level of monitoring protection. If price is a concern, you should know that you’ll realistically be looking at about $20/month for most services. When you consider that you probably waste $20 each month on something much less important than the security of your identity, getting a monitoring service plan seems like a pretty good idea. Credit monitoring alerts only help if you have them in place BEFORE your identity is stolen. If you really want to protect your fiscal future, take a proactive approach and sign up for a monitoring plan today. It’s going to be the best $20 you’ve ever spent.

If still you’re on the fence about whether or not to sign up for a plan, consider these questions.

If your identity was stolen today and fraudulent accounts opened in your name, how long would it take you to find out?

The reality is that it can take days or weeks before you find out that you have been a victim of identity theft. By this time, the damage has been done. Credit report monitoring will alert you almost immediately when suspicious activity appears on your credit reports or other monitored accounts. This allows you to quickly investigate and stop the fraud before it gets worse. It’s frightening to think that a criminal could be using your sensitive information and you have no idea it’s happening. This gives you peace of mind that you will know what’s happening with your credit 24/7.

Do you worry about using credit cards for online purchases or even at retail stores, because you fear your credit card information may fall into the wrong hands?

This is not an uncommon concern. Identity theft is a serious, ongoing threat for anyone who makes purchases online, uses online banking or makes in store purchases with credit cards.. Even secure websites can be compromised and your information can quickly end up in the wrong hands. A quality monitoring plan will let you confidently shop online again. Knowing that in the event that your information is part of a hacking scheme or data breach, you would be alerted quickly. In most cases, you will likely find out about the breach BEFORE the online store or retailer alerts potential victims. Credit monitoring allows you to be proactive and gives you the power to stop the fraud quickly.

Do you have the time to spend on the phone with creditors & businesses trying to repair the damage done by an identity theft incident?

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that it takes an average of 6 months and 200 hours of work for an individual to recover from identity theft. This is time spend contacting businesses, creditors and credit bureaus, attempting to have fraudulent accounts closed and reconciled so you are not liable for the debts. Nearly all monitoring companies include identity theft recovery assistance as part of their service plans. They will help you through the steps to repair the damage. This will save you time, money and frustration. Plus you may be eligible for up to 1 million dollars of identity theft insurance in some cases.

When was the last time you checked your children’s credit reports? Is keeping their credit in good standing a priority for you?

Most people are unaware that child identity theft is becoming even more commonplace than adult id theft. Criminals are targeting the social security numbers of children & teenagers because they usually have no credit history. This gives the thieves a clean slate to open credit card accounts, apply for home & auto loans and much more. Monitoring your child’s credit, as well as your own, helps protect them from irreparable damage that they won’t discover for years to come. You can add your child’s social security number as an add-on feature for many monitoring plans. We highly suggest you take advantage of this. Start protecting your good credit and your children’s future credit.

What Does Credit Monitoring Cost?

You should be concerned about the cost of NOT having monthly credit monitoring. The average monetary loss suffered by an identity theft victim is approximately $1500. If a criminal were to obtain your debit card number and pin, you could lose considerably more. For around $20/month you can mitigate some of this threat. Plus, all of the services I’ve reviewed below have a free trial period. You can sign up, try the service for yourself and then determine if it’s right for you. No risk. No money out of your pocket.  There are other free credit monitoring services, like Credit Karma, Mint.com & Credit Sesame, but they don’t have the same features as the paid plans.


Why is Credit Monitoring Important?

1. Catch Scammers Quickly

If people do not check their credit reports regularly, it is extremely easy for a scammer to open new accounts in a person’s name and rack up thousands of dollars of debt without the person even knowing. One year is more than enough time for a scammer to completely destroy a person’s credit and rob them of all of their assets. With the victim unaware, the scammer can go on endless spending sprees without ever paying a dime. This illegal behavior then ends up costing the victim hundreds if not thousands of dollars in losses and legal fees to fix the situation. The sooner the scammers are caught, the less damage they have time to do.

2. Protect Your Credit Score

Maintaining a good credit score is vital to people’s financial health as good credit scores help people get approved for loans and credit cards and help people receive good interest and insurance rates. Scammers and identity thieves ruin people’s credit scores by racking up large amounts of debt in people’s names and opening up accounts which are never paid off because the person does not know the accounts exist. Both large debts and missed payments can completely ruin a person’s misinformation on your credit report.

3. Detect Credit Reporting Errors

Sometimes suspicious information on people’s credit reports is not the result of a scammer or identity thief, but the result of an error. Errors cause all the same negative effects as identity thieves, only without a malicious person to blame. By monitoring your credit reports, it allows people you respond to misinformation on your credit report quickly, before feeling the negative effects.

4. Identity Theft Detection

Identity thieves do not just use others’ credit cards to rack up large amounts of expensive purchases. Identity thieves also use others’ names to seek medical care or to give a false identity when arrested. They use others’ identities to seek employment or to obtain official paperwork. They can also drain people’s bank accounts and steal their tax returns. Credit report monitoring is useful in catching identity thieves, no matter what type of crime they are attempting to commit.

What do Credit Monitoring Companies Actually Monitor?

Sources

Most commonly, credit report monitoring companies monitor people’s credit reports with one, two or three credit bureaus. More comprehensive services also monitor sources such as public records, medical records and black market websites. Some services even monitor all bank accounts nationwide, watching for accounts opened in customers’ names.

Information

The most comprehensive monitoring plans look for information such as newly opened accounts and inquiries, as well as sudden and significant changes to people’s credit scores. Some more comprehensive companies may also alert customers about changes to their mailing address or to new public record or medical record information.

Who Needs Credit Monitoring?

While there is no real downside to signing up with a reputable credit score monitoring company, some people may not need to bother with the extra expense. People who have never been the victim of identity theft, who have no reason to suspect they will be the victim in the future and who regularly check their credit reports themselves probably do not need to bother signing up for a monitoring plan.

However, there are many people who would benefit greatly from credit report monitoring, including those who have been the victim of identity theft in the past, those who have had personal information lost or stolen and those who have dealt with dishonest companies in the past. Also, people who have dishonest friends and family member with their personal information may want to sign up as well.

Selecting The Best Credit Monitoring Service & Plan

While the decision of whether or not you need a service can be an easy one, deciding which service to choose can be a little more difficult. There are several options available to consumers, and many of them are only slightly different than the others. When searching for a monitoring plan, here are a few things you may want to look for.

Frequency of Monitoring: Many monitoring companies monitor customers’ credit daily, though some may not monitor it quite that frequently. The frequency with which companies monitor customers’ credit is vital as undetected scammers can do a great deal of damage in a short amount of time.

Sources Included: Most monitoring plans will monitor one, two or three of the major credit reporting bureaus. Some also monitor customers’ personal accounts, nationwide account information, public record information and illegal black market websites.

Alert Method: Phone, letter and text message alerts are all common. Some companies even offer mobile apps that allow customers to check their information from their mobile phone.

Report Information: Many companies may only alert customers when they find suspicious activity; others will send customers their entire credit report at set intervals. Some will only notify customers of new accounts, while others will notify customers about any activity completed in their name, including arrest and medical records.

Insurance: Some offer their customers insurance so they can get their money back if they are the victim of identity theft. Others promise to spend a certain amount fixing the problem, but do not guarantee customers will recoup their losses.

Assistance: Most monitoring companies will work diligently with their customers and cancel and replace their credit cards and identification cards for them. Other companies will simply notify customers of the problem and then let the customers resolve the credit problem themselves. Customer service hours vary as well.

Cost: The cost of credit report monitoring typically varies from free to around $30, but more expensive options may or may not be worth the extra expense. Consumers should look at a company’s available features before they consider their price.


Credit Monitoring Is An Overlooked Part of Identity Protection

Credit report & score monitoring services work by monitoring for changes in your credit files maintained at the three credit reporting agencies. If something changes that you should know about you will hear about it right away. This is a good way to detect if an identity thief is trying to open an account with your personal information. These services track your credit report for the changes such as:

  • opening new accounts or lines of credit
  • making credit inquiries
  • employment changes
  • changes in address

Credit Report Monitoring vs Identity Theft Protection

A lot of people are still confused by the similarities between credit monitoring and identity theft protection plans. Many identity theft protection plans include report monitoring as part of their services or as the main part of their service. Other identity protection companies stress that it is more important to protect your actual identity instead of your credit. Which one is correct? Or is protecting both something that you should consider doing?

Protecting your identity means protecting the source materials that make up your actual identity… and that is not your credit history. Your identity means your Social Security number, your driver’s license, your public records, and anything besides your credit history that is tied to your identity. That could mean benefits to which you are entitled from your job, a settlement you may have won, or unsecured lines of debt that are not associated with your credit history unless they become delinquent to the point of being sent to a collection agency because of default.

Credit monitoring does exactly what the name implies – it monitors your credit. Your credit is like an extension of yourself because it is a record of what your spending habits and payment habits happen to be. Your credit history also keeps a record of the types of credit for which you have applied. To be able to access your credit, an identity thief must first be able to source some sort of identification materials to be able to pose as you – generally your Social Security number.

Only you can decide if you need to protect your identity, protect your credit, or to protect both of them. The good news is that any step that you take to protect yourself is a step in the right direction.

Checking Your Credit Report Yourself

Did you know that you can check your credit history for free? That’s right! If you are concerned about your credit being compromised, you can write to request a free credit report every 12 months from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can request all three at the same time to compare the information, of you can request one at a time and space them out every four months so that you have a review done all year. You can write them your own with the correct contact information to request this information, or you can choose a company from our list of the best credit report sites for 2017 and obtain your credit reports & scores that way.


**Service Guarantee benefits for State of Washington members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy issued by United Specialty Insurance Company. Benefits for all other members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy underwritten by State National Insurance Company. Under the Service Guarantee LifeLock will spend up to $1 million to hire experts to help your recovery. Please see the policy for terms, conditions and exclusions at LifeLock.com/legal.

Disclosure: In regards to the new FTC regulations, we are making this page to be compliant with 100% transparency regarding disclosure of incentive and paid reviews. We receive compensation from products and services listed on this page. This site generates income through banner advertisements and affiliate links on product reviews. We review all services based on criteria such as value to customer, levels of service, customer service ratings, &reputation. We do not receive compensation for any of the reviews found on this website.

Back to Credit Monitoring Comparisons