With all of the information flying around these days – and the increasing potential for it to fall into the wrong hands – credit monitoring services have become almost a necessity. But with dozens available, how do you know which ones are the best?
There will always be debate on this topic, but here we provide information on what we think are five of the best credit monitoring services available right now. Check some of them out, and see if you agree.
Table of Contents:
LifeLock is right up there with Identity Guard as a credit monitoring service that regularly appears on “top” lists. The company claims more than 4 million customers, so they must be doing a few things right.
Read More: Identity Guard Review
Some of the features that LifeLock offers include:
Monthly Credit Score. This is a single credit repository score, provided by TransUnion.
Dark Web Monitoring. Similar to Identity Guard, LifeLock monitors more than 10,000 known criminal websites across the globe and will alert you should your information turn up on one of them.
Checking and Savings Account Application Alerts. One of the ways that identity thieves use your personal information is opening up accounts at banks and credit unions. LifeLock monitors new account applications and will alert you when your name is associated with one of them.
Bank Account Takeover Alerts. Again, you will receive an alert from LifeLock should it come to light that someone has taken over your bank account.
Data Breach Notifications. We see these on the news every now and again, and they can be downright terrifying. LifeLock will alert you anytime there is a large-scale data breach, providing a valuable early warning so that you can protect your identity early in the process.
LifeLock also provides the LifeLock Identity Alert System, that will contact you by text, phone, or email, providing lawyers and other professionals to help you recover should you become the victim of identity theft.
LifeLock offers three packages: LifeLock Standard; LifeLock Advantage ; and LifeLock Ultimate Plus. That gives you the flexibility to choose the level of coverage that you want at a price that you can afford.
One of the factors that makes TransUnion’s credit monitoring service so appealing is that TransUnion is one of the three major credit bureaus that all of the credit monitoring services get their information from. That means that what you’ll be getting from TransUnion is the real deal, the one used by lenders and not a representative score that’s designed to imitate a real credit score.
That provides certain advantages:
Unlimited Credit Updates. TransUnion will provide credit updates as they develop, rather than only at specified times. This is another advantage that they can provide as one of the three major credit bureaus.
TransUnion Credit Lock. As an actual credit bureau, you’ll be able to either lock or unlock your credit to keep it from being viewed by unintended third parties. Other credit monitoring services cannot offer this feature, unless they are also one of the three major credit reporting bureaus.
Online Credit Tools: Monitoring isn’t a spectator sport, where you monitor your credit scores primarily to see how high you can get them to go. The more practical reason for subscribing to a credit monitoring service is so that you can deal with credit problems as they arise, rather than finding out about them only when you go to apply for a loan. TransUnion provides you with the tools to dispute and correct credit errors online, without having to jump through the fiery hoops that other services offer.
Alerts from All Three Bureaus. This doesn’t include the actual credit reports or credit scores, but it will provide you with alerts in the event that a problem shows up on any of the three credit bureau reports.
There is also up to $1 million in Identity Theft Insurance, much the same as Identity Guard and LifeLock. The only real negative with TransUnion is that the credit information that you are provided with comes only from TransUnion and not Experian or Equifax (other than the alerts).
If you want to use a credit monitoring service that lets you see your credit reports from multiple bureaus, myFICO might be the choice for you. myFICO is part of Fair Isaac, the company that designs the FICO formula, which is used by the major credit bureaus.
For a one-time fee, you can get a copy of your reports from all three major credit bureaus.
If you’d rather get regular updates, you can sign up for one of myFICO’s subscription services. There are three tiers of subscriptions, each with different features. All of them give you regular updates on your credit reports, identity theft monitoring, insight into more advanced credit scores like mortgage and auto scores, and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, making the service valuable for anyone worried about the cost of identity theft.
Read More: A Review of myFICO
Idenity Force provides many of the same benefits that better known services do. But one factor makes this service stand out, and that’s the wealth of information that the site provides on how to deal with the fallout of identity theft. There are plenty of services that will help you to identify when you’ve been a victim of identity theft, but putting your life back together after the fact is an entirely different and more challenging situation. Identity Force is uniquely tailored to help you do just that.
Some of the services available with Identity Force include:
3-Bureau Monitoring. The premium service (UltraSecure + Credit) includes Daily 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring, 3-Bureau Credit Reports, 3-Bureau Credit Scores, and a Monthly Score Tracker. None of these are available on the UltraSecure option.
Identity Restoration Specialists. Identity force also offers 24/7 fully-managed restoration services from “Certified Protection Experts.” Their work will save you hundreds of hours by completing all the paperwork, making the majority of calls, and handling every detail in the event that your identity has been stolen.
Credit Alerts. This feature provides instant notification when your personal information is being misused so that you can take action before the damage is done.
Court Records Monitoring. This includes comprehensive public records monitoring, including criminal, court, and sex offender records.
Sex-Offender Monitoring. Identity Force monitors sex offender registries to monitor illegal use of your identity. Through in-depth searches, they find out if a sex offender is fraudulently using your personal data as their registration information. You will also be alerted when a registered sex offender moves into your neighborhood.
Like the other services on this list, Identity Force also provides $1 million in Identity Theft Insurance.
Identity Force has two plans. First, UltraSecure + Credit costs $23.95 per month and includes the credit monitoring package. Alternatively, the UltraSecure plan costs $17.95 per month. It offers all of the company’s services except the credit monitoring package.
Credit Karma doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles that the other services on this list do. But, then again, Credit Karma is free! If you’re looking for a minimal approach to monitoring your credit but don’t want to pay $20 per month for the privilege, Credit Karma maybe the credit monitoring service for you.
Credit Karma provides you with credit reports, credit scores, and credit monitoring through TransUnion. That means that you will be supplied with information from only one of three major credit bureaus. Still, that maybe enough to alert you to problems with your credit report as they happen. And, once you become aware of them, you can take other steps to minimize the damage.
Credit Karma provides automatic credit alerts via email when important changes occur. It will also enable you to track new activity, making it easier for you to spot potential ID theft.
The website itself is also a rich source of credit related information. It can be an excellent resource for someone who is also looking to gain greater understanding of how credit works and what they can do to improve their situation.
Credit Karma obviously isn’t a premium credit monitoring service, but it does provide basic credit monitoring. That may be all that you decide that you need, especially if you’re looking to monitor your credit on a budget.
In today’s climate, protecting your credit is more important than ever. Because your digital footprints are everywhere, thieves have easier access to your data than ever before. Use these services to be vigilant and keep abreast of any significant changes to your credit.
Have you used any of these credit monitoring services? Are there other services that you can also recommend?