What is a credit monitoring service?
A credit monitoring service checks your credit report and bank accounts for errors and suspicious activity. When it finds a problem, you get an alert so you can take action.
You can use a credit monitoring service to check your credit report more often than a free annual report from each of the three credit bureaus. You also get regular updates about your credit score.
Most credit monitoring services include ID theft protection, but it’s not a requirement.
Does credit monitoring affect my credit score?
No. Credit monitoring services use a soft inquiry to check your credit file. A soft inquiry doesn’t affect your score in the same way as a hard inquiry, which involves applying for credit like getting a loan or credit card.
Do I need credit monitoring if my credit is frozen?
It depends on the situation. Even though a credit freeze prevents criminals from applying for new lines of credit with your stolen information, it doesn’t prevent access to your existing accounts. Many credit monitoring services can also monitor your bank, insurance, and credit accounts.2
What are the three credit bureaus?
Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are the three credit bureaus. Each of these reporting agencies provides a free credit report every 12 months and offers credit monitoring services.
Are credit monitoring services worth it?
It’s a trade-off. You pay for the convenience and time saved versus monitoring on your own.
Credit monitoring services offer greater convenience to get all three credit scores and reports in one place. They also provide alerts and assistance when fraudulent activity occurs.
You likely don’t need credit monitoring if you’re proactive about checking your credit. Simply check the free reports from all three credit bureaus on an annual basis and keep a close eye on your existing accounts.
Do I need credit monitoring after a data breach?
After a major data breach, companies often assist with repairing your credit
, usually by offering free credit or identity monitoring.
How to check if you were affected by the Equifax breach?
Visit equifaxbreachsettlement.com. You may qualify for a cash payment or free credit monitoring through Experian.
Do any bank accounts and credit cards come with credit monitoring?
Many banks and credit card issuers let you check your credit score when you log into your account online. Check with your bank or credit card company to see if it offers any additional monitoring.
Is Credit Karma reliable?
Yes, but you get credit scores from only two bureaus: TransUnion and Equifax. Credit Karma uses VantageScore 3.0 to provide credit scores. This is the same system used by many paid credit monitoring services including Credit Sesame, IDShield, LifeLock, and Identity Guard.
Even though Credit Karma is a free, reliable service, we don’t recommend it as a substitute for paid credit monitoring. It relies on advertising to make money, so you’re trading financial privacy for targeted ads.
How do I protect my child’s credit?
The FTC has a helpful guide on Child Identity Theft. It has tips to help you spot warning signs and fix problems if a criminal steals your child’s identity.
Since your child is a minor, they can’t enter into any contracts without you. This makes the process for fixing fraud as simple as providing a copy of a birth certificate to the lender or credit bureau.3
You can also sign up for a family plan from a service like IDShield, IdentityForce, or Identity Guard.