Credit consumers today are more aware than ever before of the necessity of checking their credit reports regularly and monitoring their accounts to guard against identity theft. To assist them, a number of credit monitoring service companies have sprung up, claiming to offer some protection against identity theft and help you keep track of your credit report and credit score. For their services, credit monitoring services usually charge a monthly fee, which could be anywhere from $15 to $130 in some cases.
What is Credit Monitoring?
What do these credit monitoring services do, exactly? And, is it worth it? Different companies may provide different subscription services, and offered services may vary widely between companies. But typically, these services promise to check your credit report on a regular basis and alert you if there is any suspicious activity.
They usually also offer you a copy of your credit report and credit score. Some offer insurance against credit card fraud in the event that an identity theft does occur, or offer certain fraud-related services in connection with the three major credit bureaus in the even that identity theft does occur. But this is not always the case.
What about Identity Theft Protection?
Many credit monitoring programs market their services as “identity theft protection.” However, these programs do nothing to stop identity theft before it occurs.
Most of them only alert you afterward, at varying rates of speed. While it may be useful as a potential early warning system in the event of fraud on your accounts, credit monitoring services will not stop identity thieves from accessing your accounts.
Credit monitoring programs will also not help you contact your creditors in the event that you want to take steps to repair your credit report. If you wish to resolve outstanding debts or dispute inaccuracies, you will still need to contact the credit bureau yourself and get information from them as to who is reporting negative items against your accounts.
Credit monitoring programs are not credit counseling services and can’t help you repair your credit.
It’s important to manage your credit information and pay attention to your credit report, and you may feel you need the extra help that a credit monitoring program provides. However, before you sign on with a credit monitoring program, make sure that they are doing something more for you than you could do for yourself.