Introduction to the Best Credit Monitoring Services
Credit monitoring services are crucial in various ways. One, these services ensure that you are always on top of your credit report and score. Credit scores are very essential in today’s world and hence having a tool that assists you in maintaining an above-average score is very important. The services providers here will always alert you whenever your credit expenditure starts pulling towards the danger zone that are known to damage credit reports and scores. This allows you to change your habits before it’s too late.
Secondly and most importantly, credit monitoring services will protect you against identity theft. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 15.4 million consumers lost a total of $16 billion from different forms of identity theft back in 2016. In 2018, one data breach at the credit bureau Equifax compromised the personal information of more than 140 million consumers. We can go on and on mentioning the different kinds of data breaches across various companies such as JPMorgan, eBay, and many others.
This shows that protecting personal information has become really difficult with due advancement in technology. While financial institutions and online market places are working hard to boost the security of their websites, hackers are working twice as hard to figure out how they can get into the systems.
One of the biggest strides that you can take to avoid being one of the many victims who is hugely affected by identity theft every year, is by sourcing the services of a credit monitoring company.
Choosing Credit Monitoring Services
We’d like to draw your attention to some companies that claim to offer credit monitoring services when they are in fact lead-generation websites for other companies. You should definitely avoid such since they don’t really handle credit monitoring themselves. Using the services of such providers only means that your information is going through a middleman which beats the whole purpose of protecting personal information.
When shopping for a credit monitoring service provider, you will have the option between two types of companies. The first group of companies delivers comprehensive monitoring. These companies focus more on preventing the theft of your ID. The companies are usually a good option, but you must make sure that the service provider you select offers protection for existing accounts. That’s simply because 85% of all identity theft victims had their existing accounts accessed without their knowledge.
Apart from protection on existing accounts, we’d also recommend that you get a company that offers ID verification alerts, ID theft victim assistance, lost-wallet protection and account takeover alerts.
The other alternative involves credit reporting bureaus, and this means that you only get to choose between three options, i.e. TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Unlike Comprehensive companies whose focus is on ID theft, credit reporting bureaus place their emphasis on monitoring the changes in your credit.
For CRB, you should look for the bureau whose protection has features such as the ability to include ID theft protection, ease of monitoring your credit reports from different bureaus and timely alerts for changes on every report.
You should know that credit report monitoring alone will only give you details of a new account opening, but you won’t know if your bank account has been accessed or if someone else has used your credit card.
Our Top Credit Monitoring Services
Identity Guard is perhaps the best credit monitoring service in the market. They’ve been around for more than 20 years during which they have served in excess of 47 million customers! The company delivers protection from different angles ensuring that you are fully guarded against online theft. Not only will you receive the best ID theft protection from identity Guard but they’ll also stay on top of your credit where they will monitor any irregular changes.
This service provider offers three protection plans; the Value, Total and Premier plan that come for $8.99, $19.99 and $24.99 respectively. The plans may come at different prices, but they all provide excellent credit monitoring. The slight difference comes in when looking at some of the features that they have. The Total and Premier Plans will monitor your credit report on the three major credit bureaus. They will also track your personal information including social security number, name, etc. on different databases. The Value plan is the economical option that provides protection just as good, but a few features such as credit score updates and three-bureau monitoring are left out.
Identity Guard has other family plans that protect the personal information of the young kids. These plans will pay close attention to your child’s information on different databases and even on the dark web. The Value Family plan costs $14.99 while Total and Premier Family Plans cost $29.99 and $34.99 respectively. The Value Family plan offers basic protection whereas the Premier Family Plan goes a step further to screen any cyber-bullying your children may be going through on different social media platforms.
All the plans will provide quick alerts on high-risk transactions involving your accounts. You will be notified whenever someone accesses or changes any information on your account.
If you become a victim of identity theft, Identity Guard will connect you with an expert that will help to restore protection for your accounts, and they’ll also compensate your losses with the $1 million theft insurance cover.
The Value Plan does not provide address-change monitoring.
IdentityForce offers two credit monitoring plans; the UltraSecure and UltraSecure + Credit plan. The UltraSecure plan offers identity monitoring services only while the UltraSecure + Credit plan offers both identity and credit monitoring from the three major credit monitoring bureaus. The UltraSecure plan goes for $17.95 per month or $179.50 per year while the UltraSecure + Credit plan is $23.95 per month or $239.50 per year.
IdentityForce will keep track of your credit reports, court orders, address changes, and payday loans. They will also keep an eye on the sex offender list to ensure that your personal information is never used without your knowledge.
If you wish to extend this protection to your kids, you can buy the family add-on to supplement your UltraSecure or UltraSecure + Credit plan.
In case you become a victim of identity theft, IdentityForce will link you up with a Certified Protection Expert that will do all the paperwork and other follow-ups to get you back on your feet. They also have a $1 million identity theft insurance coverage.
IdentityForce would have performed much better if they had a committed child-protection plan.
Experian offers triple bureau credit monitoring. They also provide various options to gain one-time access to your credit report. You can purchase both your credit report and FICO score from Experian for only $19.99. They also provide FICO scores and credit reports from all the three credit bureaus for $39.99.
Through the CreditWorks Basic, Experian will give you a free credit report once every 30 days. You can also decide to buy the CreditWorks Premium which comes with more features including a daily Experian credit report and a report from the three credit bureaus. This will cost you $4.99 for the initial month and $24.99 afterward.
Experian also provides ID protections. They are not as comprehensive as you’d get from the other providers discussed above, but they are still quite effective. These will scan your ID and look for any of your personal information that may be on the internet. They will also check for change of address, fraud resolution, and lost wallet protection.
There are two ID protection plans; the Plus Plan that costs $9.99 and the Premium Plan that goes for $19.99 per month. For the extra $10.00, the Premium Plan offers additional monitoring on social networks, sex offender registry, payday loans among others.
It’s worth noting that Experian offers credit monitoring services for small businesses as well.
Experian credit monitoring services are quite costly.
Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways. You can now buy literally anything right through the internet. Also, different websites and social media platforms that we use every day collect a lot of our personal information without our knowledge. This puts us at serious risk for identity theft. Data from the Insurance Information Institute shows that ID theft tripled from 2016 to 2017. To safeguard you and your family, we’d advise you to employ the services of the best credit monitoring service providers discussed above.
David is a financial expert who graduated from the University of Fordham (Master in Finance) in 2001. He has 10+ years of experience in private equity and wealth management. With strong expertise in senior-level financial planning, personal financial analysis, and mortgages, David knows his way around personal finance. Before working at CCR he used to be a financial analyst at McKinsey.
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