Top 5 Credit Monitoring Services of 2016
Credit is one of the most important components of an American’s overall financial portfolio. That being said, all too many individuals are woefully unaware of what really goes into their credit rating, with many more falling victim to erroneous information that ends up costing them a great deal. As a result, it has become important for people from all walks of life to constantly monitor their credit for suspicious or fraudulent activity.
One might think that they have perfect credit, only to discover at a later date that someone has been opening accounts in their name. It just takes one such occurrence to cause more than a little headache and grief. Imagine going to apply for a mortgage, only to be denied because your credit report contains a record of delinquent payments.
If you did not open such an account in the first place, this is certainly an injustice. It is an injustice, however, that will likely take quite some time to correct. Credit monitoring services have arrived on the scene to protect against these occurrences.
Using a mix of modern technology and human ingenuity, each service is designed to continually monitor your credit report for any signs of suspicious activity. This is done entirely in the background, without you having to do a thing. If such activity is spotted, the service will immediately notify you to determine if it is something you should take care of now.
Of course, not all credit monitoring services are created equal. To help take the guesswork out of choosing the best one for your particular situation, we have scoured the marketplace and have the following three recommendations for you. This is followed by a quick review of two major credit bureaus in operation today.
Our Recommendation For The Best Credit Monitoring Services
We have looked through countless home security systems currently available on the market to arrive at these recommendations for you. These were then broken down into four different types of systems in order to fit your particular situation and needs.
1. Identity Guard
According to our own investigation, Identity Guard stands hand and shoulders above the rest of the credit monitoring services currently in operation today. They offer a detailed and inclusive program that continually monitors your credit score for any changes that might occur without your knowledge.
In addition, that service is combined with arguably the best protection against identity theft available anywhere. Their top plans offer a continual evaluation of all three of the main credit agencies in operation today. They look for any changes that have been made to your report, which enables the customer to then make important financial choices.
Identity Guard also looks for any changes that might occur to their client’s personal information, such as Social Security number or legal name. This is a red flag to potential fraudulent activity, so this monitoring service can prove invaluable in the event that someone does try to use your personal data in an illegal fashion.
There are multiple pricing plans to suit your particular needs. Other features of Identity Guard include account takeover alerts, assistance for victims of identity theft, protection in the event of a lost wallet, a $1 million insurance policy against identity theft, and a patented ID Vault password protection
- Regular monitoring of all 3 credit bureaus
- Regular updates on credit reports and credit scores from all 3 credit bureaus.
- Lost wallet protection
- $1 million in identity theft insurance
- Social security number monitoring
- Public record and change of address monitoring
- Includes a suite of computer security software for keystroke encryption and password protection.
- Identity theft recovery assistance
As far as credit monitoring services go, LifeLock is perhaps the best known thanks to its massive promotional campaigns around the country. They have a proven reputation of being to protect their client’s identity and credit rating. To do this, they proactively monitor all credit card and bank account applications to determine if your personal information is being used without your permission.
This also includes constant monitoring of major utility companies and other services via their vast network. If they detect any type of suspicious activity, you will be immediately notified via an email or phone call. Another handy feature of LifeLock is that they will help cancel and replace any contents of your wallet should it be lost or stolen.
This is an added piece of mind that sets it apart from many other credit monitoring services on the market today. They also have a unique offering of being able to continuously check so-called black market websites that are frequent targets of identity thieves. Criminals meet on these sites for the express purpose of buying and selling stolen personal information.
If your information ends up on these black market sites, LifeLock will find out about it and let you know so that you can take action. Another additional feature is that they work to help reduce the number of preapproved credit offers that flood your mailbox. They also offer a number of different pricing packages for clients to choose from.
- LifeLock uses advanced technology to constantly monitor over a trillion data points to help detect suspicious uses of your identity information to get loans, credit and services in your name.
- Instant fraud alerts sent by phone, text, or email.
- Team of identity restoration specialists available to help recover your identity.
- $1 Million service guarantee.
- Child ID theft plan available (Lifelock Junior)
This is the third top rated credit monitoring service on the market today. They offer quite a range of services and come with an excellent reputation amongst current customers. Like their major competitors, the top plan offers continual monitoring of all three major credit bureaus in the United States.
This service will automatically notify you via email in the event that any change, however major minor it might be, appears there. In addition, IdentityForce will send you a monthly statement that will summarize exactly what is going on with your credit file. This is helpful to gain a snapshot of how your profile changes over time.
The company also actively monitors to protect your children. They do this through their Child Watch service, making it an ideal choice for families that are looking for that added protection. This company also has identity restoration specialists on call around the clock to assist you in the event that your good name has been compromised.
Time is of the essence in such an event, so this could be a handy level of protection to have. For those that desire additional monitoring services, IdentityForce also allows for the monitoring of court records and sex offender registries. All of these add-ons are for an additional fee, so choose according to your particular needs.
- Innovative technology used to monitor your identity, privacy, and credit.
- Instant alerts sent to your phone or email if your personal information is at risk.
- $1 Million identity theft insurance policy.
- Instant access to your credit reports online for Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.
- Medical ID fraud protection.
- Junk-Mail opt-out/
Transunion has earned their reputation of being a credit reporting bureau that provides some of the most efficient and beneficial credit monitoring services available to consumers today. When you are a member, you will receive access to not only the Transunion report, but the other two major reporting agencies as well. They will notify immediately if there is any suspicious activity noted on your account.
While many readers might remember the days when TransUnion only monitored their own report, this deficiency has since been rectified. This is the primary reason why they have now made this list. For consumers looking to get a one-off score from TransUnion, they can request one for free from the company itself.
For just a small fee for a seven-day trial, a report from all three bureaus will be generated. TransUnion also offers identity theft protection through their partner, True Identity. This is a service that constantly monitors public records and various other services to alert you if your personal information suddenly appears there.
The aforementioned service has since expanded into TransUnion also offering protection for a lost wallet, monitoring for any address changes to your account, and providing you with access to professionals who specialize in identity restoration.
As one of the major credit reporting bureaus, Experian also provides an exceptional credit monitoring service. They now offer a number of different options for consumers to gain one time access to their report. It is also possible to purchase your FICO score and to get access to reports from all three credit reporting agencies.
This can come in quite handy for individuals who just want to check in on their report every once in a while. For those who desire more active monitoring, Experian offers multiple options there as well. Their Experian Credit Tracker package gains you access to your Experian report, in addition to daily monitoring from all three major credit reporting bureaus and support from fraud resolution specialists.
It is important to note that the comprehensive report is only from Experian, but any changes on your report made by the other two major agencies will trigger an alert being sent to you. The company also offers some protection against identity theft, but to be fair they fall short of the other services reviewed here.
The Experian service expands on the credit tracker package by adding daily scanning of the Internet to find out where your personal information may be in use without your knowledge. They also offer the standard lost wallet protection, monitoring for any address changes, and help with any fraud related activity that you might encounter on your report.
How the Best Credit Monitoring Services Were Ranked
The recommendations that you have just read through were not arrived at lightly. Much analysis and evaluation went into each major credit monitoring service currently on the market in order to arrive at only the best.
Features and Serviced Offered
This began with a careful look at the features and service offerings granted by each company. As many companies do tend offer similar packages, we looked at the quality features inherent in each service. This involved looking at the comprehensive nature of the data provided, frequency, and their effectiveness at notifying customers about any problem areas.
Online Reviews and Customer Complaints
Believing that customers are the best indicator of a company’s success, we scoured online review sites to hear from current and former clients of each monitoring service. We wanted to read about the good, the bad, and the ugly before we recommended any service to you.
Pricing and Packages
Beyond this, price is important. You deserve to get what you pay for, so we put each credit monitoring service to the test. It was important to consider the value contained within each pricing package offered, and the top recommendations that we have for fit the bill. You will receive the best value on the market with either of these companies.
Finally, we took a look at the reputation of each company. This was accomplished by looking at rating agencies such as the Better Business Bureau to determine if there have been any consumer complaints that needed to be taken into account.
Reasons Credit Monitoring Is Important
As technology continues to evolve, credit monitoring is becoming increasingly important. Because your credit report involves data that you might be unaware of until you go to apply for a loan or some other type of financial transaction, it is helpful to know what it contains.
Catch Scammers and Fraudsters
The problem is that this is cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive when left to your own devices. Credit monitoring must be continuous in order to catch fraudulent activity and those individuals that are out to steal your information and ruin your credit.
Protect Your Credit Score
Anyone who has ever applied for a loan understands how important the credit score is during the process. Credit monitoring allows you to protect your credit score against erroneous information because it constantly monitors your report for such information.
Detect Credit Reporting Errors
It is the function of credit monitoring services to detect any errors on your credit report that might be harming your report. It is frustrating to encounter a bad credit rating when it is not due to anything you have done. This highlights the importance of having a credit monitoring service on your side to notify you in such an event.
Prevent and Protect Against Identity Theft
Finally, credit monitoring is important in order to both prevent and protect against identity theft.
Things To Consider Before Choosing a Credit Monitoring Company
Now that you understand the importance of credit monitoring, it is time to choose one. Not all services are created equal, and not all fit your particular needs. There are some things that you will want to consider before ultimately choosing a credit monitoring company.
Frequency of Credit Report Monitoring
Depending on your needs, you will want to decide on the frequency of credit monitoring that you require. This can range anywhere from daily, weekly, or monthly updates. For individuals that rely on credit extensively, daily monitoring might be the way to go. Others might only have a few open items of credit to their name, so paying for monthly monitoring might be the better option.
How Many Credit Bureaus Are Being Monitored?
Another thing to consider is how many credit bureaus you want to have monitored. While it is true that all three contain much of the same information, there will be some subtle differences between the three. This speaks once again to your individual needs and how much you rely on credit. In addition, determine if you would like to have additional identity theft insurance, as the more comprehensive credit monitoring services will offer this protection.
Lost Wallet Protection
This is another premium monitoring service that is typically only offered in the higher priced packages. If you feel that you do not need this, then that is something to consider as you make your selection.
Identity Theft Insurance
This speaks to the need for identity theft recovery assistance as well. You will pay for this feature, but it will come in very handy if your credit has been ruined due to fraudulent activity.
Finally, price is always a consideration, so choose carefully and based on your specific and current needs.
Credit Monitoring vs. Identity Theft Protection
It is important to understand that credit monitoring services do differ somewhat from identity theft protection. Credit monitoring is rather straightforward and is largely automated. If any aspect of your credit report changes from one moment to the next, you will be notified.
To take action on that alert, however, would be largely up to you. Such monitoring services have proven effective at notifying consumers about changes to their report that they did not make. This can save a lot of time and hassle in the end.
Identity theft protection, on the other hand, is much more comprehensive in its approach. This includes not only credit monitoring, but expands into other areas such as name and social security changes in addition to other items. The opposite is simply not true for credit monitoring alone.
The difference comes into play with pricing packages. Determine what you really need and then select accordingly. Each of the three credit monitoring services highlighted in this review also offers identity theft protection. There are various types available depending on the company that you ultimately select, but all operate under the same general guidelines.
If your identity is compromised in any way, the company will set out to help you repair it and restore your good name.
The overarching conclusion to this report is that you need to get protected. No matter if you opt for a basic credit monitoring service, or if you go for a more comprehensive package that includes identity theft protection, the key is to do something.
There is simply too much information floating out there in cyberspace, much of it with your name attached. You need to be proactive in discovering false information that is harming your credit and good name, so subscribe to one of these services and begin to rest a bit easier at night.