All three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, along with other companies offer credit monitoring. Depending on the company or the plan you purchase, they will monitor for activity on all three bureaus or at least on one of them. Almost all monitoring services, again depending on the company or the plan you purchase, will give you access to your credit report, and sometimes even your score. Your credit report and score might be just from one credit bureau, or even all three. Some plans will give you unlimited access to your credit report, some allow you to request it only once a month, and some just monitor but give you no access to your report.
Most of the monitoring services check for any changes to your credit report on a daily basis. These changes include a new account showing up or credit inquiries. A credit inquiry is when a company checks your credit record for the purpose of applying for a loan, credit card, or even a job. The monitoring service will usually contact you by e-mail indicating that a change was detected. If you did not do anything that would have affected your credit report, this might be an indication that someone might be using your information without your consent, such as identity theft. If a situation like that is caught early, it could be stopped and reversed, avoiding a lot of headaches later on.
Many consumers get subscribed to these credit monitoring services by responding to an offer for a free credit report and score, or one at a reduced price, usually $1. The offer subscribes you to a credit monitoring service and if you do not cancel by so many days, your credit card will be charged for the monthly subscription. Many of these offers are tempting and are advertised nationally by catchy and humorous advertising on the Internet or on television. Some of us are just paranoid about being victims of identity theft, and credit monitoring helps ease those fears at a monthly cost.
Unless you have been a victim or think you might be a victim of identity theft, I would not suggest a credit monitoring service. You can do your own monitoring for free throughout the year. Each one of us can order our free credit report once a year from one of the three bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. This will only give you access to view your credit report and not your score. Your credit score is optional and you will have to pay to get that. So how do I do my own credit monitoring for free? First, I would order a credit report from one of the three bureaus, let’s say Experian, today for free at annualcreditreport.com. Then four months from the date you ordered your Experian report, I would go back to the site and order the other report from, Equifax. Then four months from the date you ordered your Equifax report, I would go back to the site and order the other report from, TransUnion. Then you would start the whole process again.
When you view your reports, you want to make sure that all the information included in there is yours and reported accurately. If not, then you can dispute any information that you feel is not correct. Each credit bureau has different information, although the gaps in reporting are getting better. All the credit bureau does is collect information and summarize it from data that is given to them by the creditors. As a result, your credit score could be different with each of the three bureaus.
If you are interested in credit monitoring services, make sure you get it from one of the threes bureaus or a reputable company. There are companies that just want your personal information, don’t provide the service, and then you find out your information has been compromised. Please research your credit monitoring company before doing anything.