When to Get Free vs. Paid Credit Monitoring
Credit monitoring is essential to your financial health. Regularly checking your credit report along with your credit rating provides you vital information about your financial wellness, and can serve as an early warning of possible problems such as missed payments or identity theft. However, making sure to always monitor your accounts can be tedious and time-consuming.
With several companies offering free and paid credit monitoring services, it can be challenging to choose which option to go with. Let’s take a look at what credit monitoring entails and if it’s worth paying for.
What Is Credit Monitoring?
Typically, when talking about credit monitoring, it is referring to a professional service that monitors your credit score for unusual activity, such as new account openings and information breaches.
Credit monitoring means keeping an eye on your credit by routinely checking your credit reports and your credit score. Since a good credit score affects the interest rates you can potentially receive on different types of loans, mortgages, and credit cards, you always want to know your status before making a significant purchase.
By monitoring your credit, you are more likely to find out whether or not there’s been a data breach or if you’ve been a victim of identity theft, both of which could result in credit card fraud and cost you much more money in the future. You’ll also be able to discover if someone has applied for credit in your name or has charged on your credit cards. Also check out: SmartCredit’s Identity Theft Insurance.
By law, you can receive a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.
In addition, if you are denied credit for any reason, you are also entitled to a new copy of your credit report. If this occurs to you, you will want to speak directly to the credit bureau whose report was used to deny you credit.
Moreover, many credit card issuers now offer credit scores and other types of free credit monitoring services. For instance, some credit card companies provide both customers and non-customers accessibility to particular services for free.
What Do Credit Monitoring Services Offer?
With the expansion of free credit monitoring services, many people might ask what additional features do paid credit monitoring services offer?
Many professional credit monitoring services provide their customers with additional services such as identity recovery, identity theft insurance, lost wallet coverage, and fraud settlement support.
SmartCredit monitors not only for new accounts and unusual activity, but your daily credit card and bank transactions as well in order to give you a complete picture of what is going on with your money, credit and identity. Should an alert raise a suspicion for error, customers can click the Action button and send their dispute or communication directly to the source.
What Should I Look for in a Paid Credit Monitoring Service?
When shopping around for professional credit monitoring services, there are a few things you should be looking for with each company. Here are a few tips to help you find a reputable credit monitoring service.
Ensure All Bases are Covered
First, find out if the credit monitoring service provides your credit report from all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In many instances, information is not always identical between each credit reporting bureau, which makes it essential to verify the information with all three.
Research Their Background
Learn more about how long the credit monitoring service has been in business. Before trusting your personal information with any professional service, it’s critical to know that they know what they’re doing and that you can trust them with your data, as well as your hard-earned money.
Be sure also to verify the credit monitoring service with the Better Business Bureau and your state attorney general. During this process, check to see if any complaints have been filed against the credit monitoring service. This will also help you understand the legitimacy of the service provider.
Avoid False Claims
In addition, stay away from companies that make absolute promises about your credit. Some services may make claims that they can prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft, which should be an immediate red flag to consumers. While the sentiment seems excellent to consumers, no legitimate company will claim to do anything that is impossible.
Free Ways to Monitor Your Credit
If a paid credit monitoring service isn’t something you have space for at the moment, there are several ways in which you can still monitor your credit. While it may take a small amount of additional work, the free approach is undoubtedly an option for every consumer.
Here are a couple of steps that you can take to help monitor your credit at no cost.
Request Your Credit Report Regularly
As previously mentioned, you can receive a credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. That means you could potentially obtain your credit report three times a year. This is a great option to consider if you’d rather not pay for additional monitoring services.
Freeze Credit Reports
Additionally, freezing your credit reports might help prevent unwanted individuals from opening an account under your name. Once your account is frozen, no activity can occur without your approval, and you will be provided with a PIN that will be needed to “thaw” your account.
In the event that you need to apply for a loan or additional line of credit, you can quickly unfreeze your report for a specific period of time to allow yourself to apply for new credit.
Secure Your Credit Monitoring with SmartCredit
While there are several options available to monitor your credit, the decision to go with a free or paid credit monitoring service depends on the consumer.
While free credit monitoring is undoubtedly possible, paid services such as SmartCredit offer customers additional benefits that make the process of monitoring money, credit and identity much more accessible.
If you’re looking for credit monitoring services with a proven track record, sign up with SmartCredit today to take back control of your credit score.