Table Of Contents
- Credit monitoring services cannot repair your credit, prevent fraud entirely, or remove negative marks from your report.
- They can, however, monitor changes to your credit file like new accounts and credit inquiries.
- Everyone, but especially groups that are susceptible to identity theft, should monitor their credit.
- Credit monitoring services like CreditWise, Credit Karma, Experian, and Credit Sesame are reputable companies to work with.
How Credit Monitoring Works
Credit monitoring services keep track of changes to your credit report, such as new accounts, credit inquiries, or negative marks. They’ll also alert you when something changes, like a decrease in your score or suspicious activity, via phone, email, or text.
Each credit monitoring service tracks a different list of items. However, here are a few they may include:
- New accounts opened under your name
- Credit inquiries, like those from applying for a new loan
- Changes to your credit file like a new address or name change
- Financial information, like the balances on your credit products
- Suspicious activity, like finding your social security number or email on the dark web
Paid services typically offer a wider range of information, while free services stick to the basics.
What Credit Monitoring Doesn’t Do
Credit monitoring services don’t prevent identity theft from happening. By alerting you, however, they can help you stop the culprit before they can do more damage. Credit monitoring also can’t impact your credit score in any way.
|Credit Monitoring Can…||Credit Monitoring Can’t…|
|Notify you of potentially fraudulent activity||Stop scammers from accessing your personal information|
|Monitor your credit report and notify you of changes||Increase your credit score|
|Notify you of negative marks||Remove negative marks from your credit reports|
How Credit Monitoring Helps Prevent Fraud
Since the start of the pandemic, over a third (35%) of people have had someone use or attempt to use their credit cards, debit cards, or bank account. This makes monitoring your credit incredibly important.
While credit monitoring services can’t prevent fraud from happening, they can notify you of suspicious activity such as unusual spending patterns. By alerting you as soon as it happens, you’re able to address the fraudulent activity quickly and stop scammers in their tracks.
Who Needs Credit Monitoring
In theory, everyone can monitor their own credit by regularly checking their credit report and skimming for errors. However, that takes more diligence than the average person is willing to apply. Using a credit monitoring service instead can help you stay on top of changes to your credit file — which is someone everyone should do.
Those at a higher risk of identity theft should strongly consider credit monitoring. These include:
Children: Children are common targets of identity theft because of their clean file. Plus, they are less likely to discover identity theft than adults who use their social security number more often. While children likely won’t monitor their own credit, a parent should monitor it on their behalf.
Young adults: People in their teens and twenties are more likely to fall for scams, making them easy targets for identity theft.
Best Credit Monitoring Services
The best credit monitoring services track your credit file at all three of the major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. This is triple-bureau protection as it offers the most comprehensive view of your credit. Basic services that track your file at one bureau for free at a great place to start, though.
CreditWise By Capital One
Unlike some other free credit monitoring services, CreditWise by Capital One uses dual bureau monitoring of both TransUnion and Experian. They don’t, however, offer a premium version for triple-bureau monitoring.
Credit Karma also offers free dual-bureau monitoring with Equifax and TransUnion. They also do not offer a premium version for triple-bureau monitoring.
Experian’s free credit monitoring tracks changes to your report and score based on changes to your Experian credit report. If you’d like to upgrade to tripe-bureau protection, you’ll need to purchase the Experian Identity WorksSM Premium plan for $9.99 to $29.99 per month, depending on the plan.
Credit Sesame’s credit monitoring service offers real-time alerts regarding changes to your credit report and score. Its free plan monitors changes to your TransUnion credit report, but you’ll need to upgrade to the Premium version for $15.95 per month to receive updates regarding your Equifax or Experian reports.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does Credit Monitoring Lower Your Credit Score?
No. Credit monitoring cannot, and will not, impact your credit score. This is because credit monitoring services cannot incur hard inquiries on your behalf, impact your payment history, or make any changes to your credit file.
Are Credit Monitoring Services Free?
In some cases, your bank or credit card company may offer complimentary credit monitoring as a perk of banking with them. Otherwise, free services like CreditWise, Experian, Credit Karma, and Credit Sesame are reputable credit monitoring services to work with.