In today’s economic climate, your credit ratings are more important than ever to your long-term financial health. Credit monitoring services exist to help consumers track changes to their credit reports. A credit monitoring services comparison is in order if you’re thinking of using such a service, because not all credit monitoring services are equal. When making a credit monitoring services comparison, it’s important to look for reputable credit monitoring companies that offer exclusive services like comprehensive monitoring, frequent updates, unlimited access to credit reports and credit scores, dispute and fraud support, and insurance to compensate you for the costs of fighting identity theft.
When you’re doing a credit monitoring services comparison, steer clear of any companies that promise to protect you from identity theft. Credit monitoring services can’t prevent identity theft, but they can alert you the minute any changes appear on your credit reports. If an identity thief opens a new credit account in your name, your credit monitoring service will catch the activity right away, so you can set to work alerting the authorities and repairing the damage as soon as possible.
So, what should you look for when doing a credit monitoring services comparison? Make sure you choose a reputable credit monitoring service, one that is open about its background and, preferably, affiliated with a well-known brand or business. It may be best to go with a credit monitoring service offered by a bank, insurance company or other institution you already do business with. Here are some of the features you should look for in a credit monitoring service:
- Comprehensive credit report monitoring. In the course of your credit monitoring services comparison, discount any services that don’t offer to monitor all three of your credit scores from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Some creditors may not report new accounts or other credit report changes to all three of these major credit bureaus. If your credit monitoring service doesn’t monitor your credit files with all three bureaus, you’ll wind up with gaping holes in your coverage that could allow identity thieves to slip through undetected.
- Frequent alerts and extended access to scores and reports. You’re entitled to a free yearly copy of your credit report from each of the three major bureaus. When you’re doing your credit monitoring services comparison, make sure to look for companies that go above and beyond by offering you frequent or even unlimited access to your credit reports and scores from all three bureaus. Some services offer real-time monitoring and instant alerts to your email or mobile phone if they detect a credit request in your name. Others offer monthly, weekly or daily updates of any changes to your credit score. Some services do both. Decide what works for you based on your risk level; if you have previously been a victim of identity theft or if you know that your private information has been compromised, you’re considered high-risk and may want to opt for a service that provides real-time alerts.
- Insurance coverage. This is one of the most crucial things to look for when doing your credit monitoring services comparison, because your identity theft insurance will help you recover financially from identity theft. In the course of your credit monitoring services comparison, you’ll find that companies offer anywhere from $25,000 to one million dollars of coverage. Look at what the insurance covers. Will it reimburse you for out-of-pocket costs? What about lost wages for the time you took off from work to repair your good name? Does the insurance cover legal fees, private investigators, or the cost of a settlement? Consider that you might need to pay for all of these things if your identity is stolen.
- Dispute assistance and fraud support. When you do your credit monitoring services comparison, look for companies that offer dispute assistance and fraud support. Fraud support services help guide you through the process of responding to identity theft, from filing fraud reports to contacting the authorities. Dispute assistance can put a debt counselor in your corner if you have any bones to pick with any of your creditors, whether it’s the result of identity theft, or a mistake on your own or your creditor’s part.