Monthly credit score monitoring is a service offered by all three credit rating agencies, as well as many third-party companies. Credit card, insurance and loan companies are offering their own brands of monthly credit score monitoring. Consumers may ask why individuals would need to monitor their credit score with such frequency. The answer may surprise you.
The most common reason for monthly credit score monitoring is identity theft. Credit monitoring services alert the account holder when any activity that could be construed as suspicious occurs on their credit report. Credit monitoring services will monitor one, two or all credit reporting agencies, depending on the company and the plan.
Another common reason why a consumer may want to monitor their credit score on a monthly basis is in preparation for a major purchase. When you are getting ready to apply for a car loan or mortgage, you may want to keep your finger on the pulse of your credit rating just to make sure you get the best interest rate possible when the time comes to apply for the loan.
Credit Monitoring Basics
Consumers may purchase one of hundreds of credit monitoring plans. Plans may monitor the consumer’s credit report one credit bureau, two agencies or all three. Generally, the plans that monitor all three credit bureaus are more costly than those that just monitor a single agency.
Each plan provides the consumer with alerting services when information on the monitored report changes. However, if you have a monitoring service that just monitors one credit bureau, you will only be alerted if information changes on one report. Individuals concerned about identity theft should consider subscribing to a plan that monitors all three companies.
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Credit monitoring service may include a credit score of some type. However, services charge a premium for access to and monitoring of the true FICO score. Access to and monitoring of the true FICO score may be more important to some consumers. Those preparing to apply for a mortgage or car loan will be more likely to require access to their actual FICO scores.
Credit Monitoring and Identity Theft
Identity theft can occur in many forms. Nefarious individuals may obtain the credit card number of a victim and use the number to purchase an item online. Identity thieves may obtain the social security number and other identifying information of a victim and use the information to open credit accounts. A new form of identity theft is referred to as “take-over fraud.” With this type of crime, the identity thief takes over the victim’s bank and credit accounts.
Staying Informed with Credit Monitoring
If an individual has been the victim of identity theft in the past, or if they suspect they may become the victim of identity theft, monthly credit score monitoring provides the individual with alerts if new accounts are opened or the credit history is queried. Some services offer monitoring of public records and databases, in addition to credit reporting agencies. The more records that are monitored, the more successful the individual will be in combating illegal use of their financial and personal information.
Credit Monitoring Plans
Each of the three credit agencies offer various levels of credit monitoring subscriptions for consumers. The average cost for credit monitoring services ranges between $10 and $20. Review each of the credit bureau’s website for more information about the monitoring services they offer and what the plans include:
- Equifax – equifax.com
- Experian – experian.com
- TransUnion – transunion.com
In addition to the plans offered by the credit bureaus, many companies offer specialized credit monitoring services. Examples of these companies include:
- Profinity Credit Monitoring
- Equifax Complete Credit Monitoring
- Credit Check Total
Credit monitoring plans are available for as low as $4.99 per month up to over $30 per month. Some services include unlimited access to credit reports, while others simply provide a score. Shop around to find the monitoring service that meets your specific needs.