Best Credit Monitoring Services Review: 9+ Free & Paid Companies
You probably spend a good majority of your life working, building your credit and organizing your financial standing. Unfortunately, there is an increase in identity theft, which can leave a person vulnerable and without a leg to stand on. Identity theft can ravish your entire world, causing you to face financial insecurity and problems with hacking online as well as problems getting jobs, loans and credit cards. Because of the severe impact that identity theft can have on a person’s life, it is imperative that credit monitoring be used to prevent this issue from occurring in the first place. This service, while available through multiple companies, can be a safeguard against your finances, identity and your overall well-being.
What is Credit Monitoring?
Credit monitoring entails a service carefully keeping watch on your identity online. The service will often scan for any strange behavior that might have been done against you. For example, the monitoring service will alert you if a credit card is opened using your social security account and name or if a loan was taken out. You will be alerted of these things even if you were the one to take out the credit card or loan, so the entire idea behind credit monitoring is that you are fully aware of what is going on behind the scenes. You will even be alerted if a credit check is done against you, which you can dispute if you did not allow for such a check to be done.
Credit monitoring helps to prevent identity theft because it gives you a chance to see what is going on before it has an impact on your financial or overall standing. You will also receive alerts if your usernames, passwords, email addresses or social security number have been found and distributed on the dark web, which is where people can buy and sell identities for others to steal and use against the victims. Credit monitoring is an incredibly important aspect of preventing identity theft and it can be an enormous help for those who have either once been victims of this crime or who are still struggling to find the light at the end of the tunnel after being a victim for so long.
Stats on Identity Theft
Despite all of the credit monitoring services available and the fact that this is a true crime, there is absolutely no reason for hackers to give up on trying to steal identities. In fact, according to a study done by the Insurance Information Institute in 2017, over $16 billion dollars in wealth was stolen from 15.4 million people in America alone using a wide range of different identity theft tools and measures. Some of the most common places for identity theft include major retailers like Home Depot, Target and eBay where hackers were able to breach the credit card system and steal millions of credit card numbers, expiration dates as well as the security codes found on the backs of credit and debit cards.
If you recently received a new debit card from your bank due to one of these breaches, it means that your identity has already been put at risk and there was a chance that your money could have been sold and stolen from you. Even medical agencies have been breached, leaking social security numbers and private health information to hackers who are just happy to use this information against the victims. Just imagine the fear of knowing that you have money in your bank only to check your account and find nothing there. This is a nightmare that millions of people have faced year after year and the price that you pay for a credit monitoring service is well worth not having this become a reality in your life. Because hackers use a variety of measures to protect themselves from being caught, it is difficult to pinpoint who is performing these breaches, which allows them to continue what they are doing.
Why is Monitoring Important?
Credit monitoring is important because it safeguards your identity and makes it difficult and even impossible for it to be stolen. You are alerted of issues coming up that may have been missed otherwise, like an email or password being stolen and sold on the dark web without your knowledge. It alerts you if a credit card has been taken out in your name or if a loan was recently applied for from a lender. Monitoring prevents your identity from being stolen because you are given an alert before it can be stolen from you, which prevents you from having to deal with the aftermath of identity theft.
Monitoring is also a good option for those who want to keep a close eye on their credit score, as these scores can change from one month to the next. Whether you are late on a payment or completely pay off a debt, this number will change accordingly. In order to monitor your score and to be alert of any changes, these monitoring services give you a clear view of what is going on, how much debt you owe, how many loans or credit cards you have out in your name and how many defaults in payment have been seen since you took out credit. By constantly monitoring your credit score, this helps you to build credit and have more options as far as lending and credit card applications.
What Should the Company Offer and What Does Monitoring Entail?
Ideally, the credit monitoring company that you choose should have several options that make life easier for you. The company should send you alerts if someone tries to take out a loan, mortgage or credit card in your name or tries to charge to your debit or credit card. The alert should be instant, allowing you to stop it in order to protect your identity. Some companies will even put a stop to the charge immediately so that you aren’t a victim before you’re able to contact the bank.
The service should also be easy to use and quick to navigate, even for those who have never made use of one of these credit monitoring services before. This ensures that you are able to keep an eye on everything happening that is attached to your name, bank, social security number or email addresses and passwords. Ideally, the service should also be affordable, which prevents you from having financial difficulties just because you want to protect your own identity. Some services are entirely free to use, like Credit Karma, but they may not offer the security that you need and because of this, it’s important to consider a service that charges in order to protect you simply because there are more features available. Monitoring from any company should fully protect you and keep you safe in real life and when using the internet.
What are Identity Thieves Searching For?
Identity thieves stop at nothing to steal information and use it against victims. They have little to no sympathy for those whose identities are being stolen, which leaves the victim helpless and hopeless. Plus, because of the large number of identity protection measures they take themselves, it is next to impossible to find the thieves so that justice is served. This is a harsh reality for so many who have had issues with identity theft in the past.
Here are some of the things that identity thieves are searching for when they steal people’s information:
- Credit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes
- Social security numbers
- Usernames and passwords used online
- Bank account numbers
- Full names
- Driver’s license numbers
- Passport information
- Phone numbers (associated with scam calls)
- Professional license numbers (doctors, nurses, etc)
- Insurance identification numbers
The identity thieves will either use this information to provide gain for themselves in some way or they steal this information and then sell it for top dollar on the dark web. Depending on who buys the information, it can and will be used against the victim. For example, those scam calls that you might receive asking for bank account information while threatening you with jail or prison time is often associated with phone numbers stolen and sold on the web. By fully protecting yourself against identity theft using a credit monitoring service, you can prevent your information from being found, stolen or sold and the headache that comes from dealing with the aftermath of this situation. It protects your identity and financial standing, ensuring that your money and information remains your own. This is why it is imperative that you look into purchasing and/or using a credit monitoring service that works well for you.
Some of the Best Companies for Monitoring Services:
Below is an outline of some of the most popular and most beneficial credit monitoring services available. By using this guide as a comparison, you will find it easier to begin utilizing the company that is right for you.
Many have regarded Identity Guard as the number one credit monitoring service currently available on the market. Not only does it help to monitor your credit and alert you of any changes happening, but it also implements some of the most high-end identity theft protection for those utilizing their services. They have two different plants: Total Protection that costs roughly $14.99 a month and their Platinum plans which cost about $24.99 a month. Both plans monitor all three credit reporting bureaus and offer financial support if a breach is found. For a more simplistic plan, their Essential plan costs just $9.99 a month and provides comprehensive protection in a more simplified manner.
Identity Guard is different in that it provides a plan specifically for kids as well. Adults aren’t the only ones who can be the victims of identity theft and with Identity Guard’s Identity Guard for Kids, your whole family is protected. This specific plan costs just $9.99 a month but only $4.99 if you already have a plan with the company for yourself. Every plan comes equipped with identity alerts which notify you if information about you has changed online or has been sold or stolen. Their proactive victim hotline helps those who become the victims of identity theft to get back on their feet quickly and without hassle. They offer $1 million dollars identity theft insurance which can protect you in the case that your identity is stolen. ID Vault password protection is specific for online use and prevents breaches to your security when accessing information and accounts via the worldwide web. With the cost-effective plans and fully rounded protection, Identity Guard is a wonderful choice for those wanting more superior identity theft protection.
You may have heard of LifeLock before, as it is one of the world’s leading credit monitoring services. The company will monitor applications for credit cards, loans and mortgages that may be using your name or social security number to be approved. You will receive an alert if there is a breach in your security via phone, email or text message. LifeLock is designed to either replace the contents of the stolen account quickly or to prevent it from being depleted in the first place.
LifeLock also proactively monitors thousands of black market and dark web websites where information is sold and stolen for top dollar. They will alert you immediately if email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers or passwords that are associated with your identity become stolen. The company offers a range of different plans with their basic plan only costing $8.99 a month. When upgrading to their Advantage Plan for $17.99 a month, you receive fraudulent identity monitoring protection, data breach scanning and court record information. As with Identity Guard, LifeLock offers the Junior Plan which will help to protect your child’s identity as well. The Ultimate Plus Plan features sex offender registry information as well as monthly credit score tracking.
Another top contender in the credit monitoring world, Identity Force features top notch protection against identity theft. For just $19.95 a month, their Ultra Secure Credit plan will monitor all three credit bureaus to safely and effectively monitor for credit changes. You will be immediately alerted if there is a change to your credit score or if there have been hard inquiries against your line of credit. Their comprehensive monitoring options include address changes, credit reports, court records, sex offender listings and payday loan information.
Their identity theft restoration specialists are there 24/7 to get you back up on your feet if you are the victim of identity theft. They will ensure that any lost finances go back into the account they were in and that you are protected against lines of credit being opened up in your name. The Child Watch service is another option for families who want to protect their kids’ identities just like their own. Lost wallet protection alerts you if your cards have been used when a wallet has been lost.
Experian isn’t necessarily focused on identity theft more than it is on credit monitoring. Credit monitoring is important because it helps you to be alerted if your score has gone up or down and to take measures to repair it if is has suffered some damage due to inquiries or delinquent payments. Experian is one of the three main credit reporting agencies, so it makes sense that they would have their own credit monitoring features. For just $19.95 a month, you can get your Experian report as well as your FICO report on a monthly basis without it affecting your credit score. For $39.95 a month, you have access to all three credit reporting agencies.
Experian does have a few identity theft protection features, but they fall short when compared to some of the other credit monitoring companies. Some of their features include daily internet ID scanning and fraud resolution. For these added security features, it is an additional $15.95 a month. The company also offers credit monitoring and protection for small business owners, which is a feature that seems to be quite difficult to find with other companies.
ID Shield offers a family plan that costs just $25 a month for two adults and up to eight children. The monitoring just works with Experian, so you may be missing information in terms of all three credit reporting agencies. Card and account monitoring is available with ID Shield and you will receive alerts if there is anything out of the ordinary happening with your identity. The company provides password protection and guarding to those using the internet.
What makes ID Shield such a benefit is when it is used for families, as their entire family plan makes it effortless to keep everyone protected. The company will spend up to $5 million resorting your credit, but they do not take into consideration lost wages or funds that are used to restore the information.
Credit Sesame offers credit monitoring with all three credit reporting bureaus, making it one of the more comprehensive plans available. The one downside to Credit Sesame is that they do not offer a family plan and protection for children, so it is merely to help protect the identities of adults and monitor their own credit scores. New credit reports are available monthly, allowing you to make changes as needed to increase your score and improve your chances of credit line approval.
Their maximum ID theft assistance is $1 million and they are available around the clock to help if your identity is stolen or there is something on your score that you need assistance with removing. They monitor all kinds of accounts, including credit cards, banks and emails. You will receive alerts if anything is misplaced or if your information is found to be stolen and sold on the web. The company also offers free online financial assistance even if you do not take out a plan.
ID Watchdog’s plans start at just $17.95 a month and offer fully rounded protection against identity theft as well as high-quality credit monitoring. Their family plan is $36 a month and protects two adults and up to five children, so you can keep everyone protected at all times. They are available 24/7 for those who need assistance with their credit scores or just need information on protecting themselves.
One downfall to ID Watchdog is that it does not monitor your credit cards and bank accounts, which can leave you vulnerable in times of identity theft. Their identity theft protection even includes lost wages for those who were unable to work due to the problems being faced. You will receive alerts if a problem is found or if information has been used against you.
TransUnion is another credit reporting bureau that offers both credit monitoring as well as identity theft protection. While they are more focused on credit score monitoring, you can access identity protection for just $9.95 a month using their True Identity program. The plan monitors public records as well as changes to your score and stolen information that pertains to your name, address, phone number or social security number.
TransUnion allows people to access their credit score for free the first time and then for $1 when they sign up for the free 7-day trial. After that, there is a $17.95 membership fee which gives you full access to credit report findings without it affecting your score. Their security freeze feature prevents lenders from fully accessing your credit report, which can cause your score to take more of a hit than it would without this level of protection. They offer identity theft restoration services to those who have signed up for their True Identity plan.
Which Company is Best for You
Choosing a specific company for credit monitoring can be difficult because there are so many available, however, it is important to consider what the company offers and features compared to what they charge for these services. Some companies charge a lot of money per month and offer very few features that actually help with credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Keep in mind that a good majority of these companies offer free trials, which will allow you to try out their services and then choose whether you want to stay with them or not. The website’s platform also needs to be easy for you to navigate to ensure that you have access to all of the features. Once you’ve found a good company to use for credit monitoring, you can be sure that your identity and credit score are in good hands.
Once you understand the importance of credit monitoring services, it is time to take actionable steps in the right direction to protect yourself. This frequently asked questions section is designed to answer every and all questions you may have about credit monitoring services.
General Credit Monitoring FAQ
In this frequently asked question section, you will find general credit monitoring questions pertaining to the importance of credit monitoring and how it affects your financial information.
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What is credit monitoring?
Credit monitoring is a service online that helps to alert you whenever there is a change made to one of your credit reports from one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Do I need credit monitoring?
Regardless of who you are or what your credit rating is, you do need credit monitoring. Remember, credit monitoring does more than just monitor your credit such as safeguarding your personal and financial information from criminals.
What is credit monitoring arrangement?
A credit monitoring arrangement or CMA is a report that shows the projected performance and past performance of a business financial terms. This report compiles all of the required financial ratios and metrics to ascertain the financial health of a business.
How to monitor your credit for free?
The best way to monitor your credit for free is to get a free credit report from one of the three reporting agencies. You are entitled to one free credit report a year from these agencies.
How to monitor all 3 credit reports and score?
Once every 12 months, you are entitled to a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can request to get the credit reports from the bureaus at once or you can space it out throughout the year.
Does credit monitoring work?
Yes. Credit monitoring does work, especially if you like to keep an eye on your credit score. Remember, credit monitoring works as an early warning system and can warn you of potential fraud to avoid future damage done to your credit score.
How credit monitoring works?
Credit monitoring works by tracking changes and borrower behavior to help notify consumers of potential fraud. Credit monitoring also works by alerting consumers of changes to the worthiness of their credit.
What is credit fraud monitoring?
Credit fraud monitoring is a type of service that helps to identify types of identity theft, identity assumption and a fraud spree against a consumer’s financial accounts. This type of service typically alerts a consumer within minutes of suspicious activity.
Is credit monitoring worth the cost?
In my honest opinion, credit monitoring is absolutely worth the cost. However, credit monitoring should be used when you are about to make a large investment and need to keep a constant eye on your credit to keep it in the best shape such as when you are buying a house.
How to get free credit monitoring?
Unfortunately, most credit monitoring services will end up charging a monthly free to monitor your credit. However, most services will offer a free 30-day trial period where you can try the monitor service for free.
How often should you monitor your credit report?
Ideally you want to check your credit report at least once a year. However, it is recommended to monitor your credit report at least 2 to 3 times a year to maintain normal financial practices.
What is credit monitoring in banks?
Banks have a responsibility to maintain the quality of assets and recover interest on assets. As such, they do have an effective credit monitoring system in place to protect borrowers from potential fraud.
Is credit monitoring safe?
Most of the time, credit monitoring is completely safe. However, you need to keep in mind that the purpose of a credit monitoring service is to alert you after your identity has been stolen, not to prevent it from happening.
Is credit monitoring necessary?
Credit monitoring is necessary if you want to keep your identity safe and want to keep a close eye on your credit score. This is essential especially if you plan on making large investments where your credit score can affect the investment.
Can I deduct a credit monitoring service?
Since fees associated with a credit monitoring service are considered to be a personal expense, fees are generally not deductible. However, you can deduct any losses due to identity theft.
Can you have more than one credit monitoring service?
Yes. You can have more than one credit monitoring service. This of course will depend on what you are looking for in terms of the monitoring service. In all honesty, only one monitoring service is needed.
Does credit monitoring hurt credit score?
No. Monitoring your credit does not hurt your credit score. Credit monitoring is only used as a means to monitor your credit, not to have any effect on it as it would if you were applying for more than one credit card.
How to monitor credit risk?
The best way to monitor and manage your credit risk is to first gain a complete understanding of credit risk by viewing the risk of portfolio levels and keep tabs on your personal financial situation.
Do I need credit monitoring services for my kids?
While you don’t necessarily need credit monitoring services for kids, it is a great way to keep your child’s financial information safe. A credit monitoring service can help protect your kids from identity theft.
Does credit monitoring alert address change?
Most credit monitoring services helps to protect you by monitoring any signs of potential credit tampering, including a sudden change of address. These alerts can help protect your information in the case your identity is in the beginning stages of being stolen.
Where can I buy a credit monitoring service?
The best place to purchase a credit monitoring service is online. There are many credit monitoring services, but the best ones are from the top credit bureaus such as Experian, TransUnion or Credit Karma.
How to monitor credit after identity theft?
After identity theft has been committed, you want to alert the credit monitoring service by filing an identity theft report. Then file an identity theft report with the local police station.
How can I monitor and lock all 3 credit bureaus?
To lock all your credit reports from all 3 credit bureaus, you need to contact the bureaus directly either online or offline. Once locked, you can create an account with these bureaus or request real time alerts to detect real changes to your credit report.
How to build credit to monitor with your credit?
In order to monitor your credit, you will need to build it first. The best way to do this is to apply for a credit card and then use it. Once you have used it a couple of times, you can begin monitoring your credit by requesting a free credit report.
How to set up monthly monitor on my own credit?
The best way to monitor your own credit on a monthly basis, you should:
- Receive a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, requesting one report every 4 months or no more than 1 from each once a year.
- Sign up for a free credit monitoring provider.
- Request daily or monthly alerts on your credit history.
Can I enroll my child in free credit reporting?
No. The reason why you can’t enroll your child in free credit reporting is because they do not have actual credit until they enroll for their first credit card or student loan. However, you can enroll in free credit monitoring to ensure your child’s identity hasn’t been stolen.
Credit Monitoring Provider FAQ
This section focuses on frequently asked questions about certain credit monitoring providers such as Equifax and Experian.
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Should I sign up for Equifax credit monitoring?
If you are not bothered by the latest Equifax breach where millions of Americans accounts and financial information was put at risk, then signing up for credit monitoring can be ideal, especially if you need to keep a close eye on your credit.
How to cancel Experian credit monitoring service?
The best ways to cancel Experian credit monitoring service are:
- Call the Experian number directly and talk to an Experian representative.
- Contact Experian customer service.
- Cancel the account via your online account.
How to cancel credit check monitoring with USAA?
To cancel credit check monitoring with USAA:
- Call the USAA customer service headquarters directly.
- Cancel the account online via your USAA online account.
- Cancel your USAA monitoring by mail.
How to cancel LendingTree credit monitoring?
While you can cancel a LendingTree credit monitoring account by either talking to a representative or going through your account directly, your account will not be closed unless offers are extended to you and you accept them.
Does LifeLock monitor credit bureau?
Yes. LifeLock currently pulls and monitors credit reports from the top three credit bureaus. You can choose when to pull these reports such as once a year or can monitor your credit daily.
How to cancel Transunion credit monitoring service?
The best way to cancel a credit monitoring service from Transunion is to call the toll-free number or cancel your subscription by going to the support page or by doing so directly through your account.
Does Bank of America offer credit monitoring?
No. While Bank of America does not offer a traditional credit monitoring service, the bank does off free FICO scores which can help you determine if you are able to apple for credit cards or loans.
What credit monitoring service got hacked?
The credit monitoring service that got hacked recently was Equifax. If you pulled a credit report before 2018, you are likely one of the 143 million Americans whose data was exposed during the hack.
Does Credit Karma monitor your credit?
Yes. Credit Karma is one of the most popular credit monitoring providers today. Credit Karma monitors credit as a free service whenever users pull their credit reports using their system.
What is the best credit monitoring app?
The best credit monitoring app for iOS devices and Android devices alike is Credit Karma. It is a free service that can breakdown any credit lines on your credit record and monitor your financial information to protect against potential identity theft.
How much is Transunion credit monitoring?
Transunion offers a credit monitoring service as part of a subscription service that starts at a monthly coast of $19.95 a month plus taxes. The subscription offers credit score trending, credit lock, credit score reports and critical credit change alerts.
Does Chase offer credit monitoring?
Yes. J.P. Morgan Chase offers free credit report monitoring. As an account holder with Chase or even if you don’t have an account, consumers can have unlimited access to their credit score.
How to sign up for Credit Karma free credit monitoring?
To have access to Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring requires you to create a free account with Credit Karma. Once you create an account, just pull your credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax and you are offered a free credit monitoring service in the process.
Can I still get credit monitoring from Equifax?
Yes. You can still get credit monitoring from Equifax. However, if you are signing up after January 31st, you will not receive free credit monitoring that is issued due to the Equifax customer breach that recently occurred.
Does Chapter 13 Trustee monitor credit report?
As a Chapter 13 Trustee, you can monitor your credit report as soon as the bankruptcy goes through. Once the trustee completes chapter 13, debtors balance will zero out and show up on a credit report.
Is Wallet Hub credit monitoring good?
Wallet Hub credit monitoring is one of the best free credit monitoring services available today. It is the only credit monitoring service that offers real-time SMS credit alerts as well as real-time email notifications.
Will Experian credit monitoring give me daily updates?
While Experian credit monitoring does update current credit information continuously, it is up to you or the account holder to allow Experian to send you daily alerts on changes made to your credit history.
How to get Easy Web credit monitoring?
Since Easy Web is a service offered by TD Bank, the best way to get credit monitoring is to be a TD bank account holder. Once an account holder, you can monitor your credit accounts and protect your financial information.
Is LastPass credit monitoring safe?
Yes. LastPass credit monitoring is completely safe to use and does not affect your credit score in the process. LastPass credit monitoring offers free monitoring alerts and are used as a free resource to proactively monitor and protect your data.
How to turn off credit monitoring from Credit Sesame?
In order to turn off credit monitoring from Credit Sesame, you must deactivate your free Credit Sesame membership which can be down directly from the inside of your account. You will have to send a request to customer support to cancel your subscription.
Credit Monitoring Services FAQ
This section you will find credit monitoring services frequently asked questions pertaining to the types of services credit monitoring providers offer.
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What is the best credit monitoring service?
The best credit monitoring service is Identity Guard. Identity Guard offers ongoing credit monitoring, 24/7 live support, real-time rapid alerts and recovery services that help to protect its consumers against identity theft.
How to monitor credit report for identity theft?
The best way to monitor a credit report for identity theft is to look through the history and see if any new credit cards, addresses, phone numbers or names have been added to the report. If so, your credit may be at risk.
What is the most accurate credit monitoring service?
The most accurate credit monitoring service is LifeLock. LifeLock works by monitoring several threats at once such as credit file activity, online loan history, unauthorized address changes, online payday loan applications and information on the dark web.
How much does credit monitoring cost?
Credit monitoring costs can vary based on the credit monitoring service provider. Costs can typically range from $10 to $15 a month and can go as high as $200 for the year.
Jordan's work focuses on helping people reach their financial goals so they can spend more time with family and friends and less time worrying about their budget. After finishing college with a degree in Accounting and Communication, he realized that these are the most important things in life and that people shouldn’t miss out because of money.