Credit monitoring is a service that companies provide you. They will carefully watch changes in your patterns of borrowing behaviour to notify you if there may have been fraud in your name. They also monitor any changes to your status of creditworthiness.
Credit monitoring services track both credit scores and credit reports in this effort. Consumers utilize these services to protect themselves from identity theft, which has become a problem affecting over 48 million Americans in the last few years.
Fraudsters can steal your personal identity or financial information in order to falsely take out credit in your name for their own gain. This could involve faking Medicare or Social Security claims or buying purchases online or in store illegally.
The problem for consumers is that this kind of criminal activity is hard to pick up on until months after it has taken place, at which point your credit may have been severely wrecked. It can take months or even years to restore it after you have been a victim of identity theft fraud.
This is where credit monitoring services become so important. They will make you aware of any changes to your credit activity like the opening of new accounts or hard credit inquiries that signify a major purchase is happening (like a car).
There are credit monitoring services that also provide comprehensive credit score tracking so that you are continuously aware of your credit quality. This enables you to make any necessary repairs or changes to your credit that would interfere with you taking out a mortgage, car loan, or new credit line.
Features and pricing for credit monitoring services range from one service to another. They can easily cost from $19.99 to $39.99 per month. There are financial institutions that will track your credit scores as a customer for free (on a limited basis). Paid services provide more complete scans of your Social Security, credit card, and bank account numbers.
According to the Balance, the best credit monitoring services in 2019 are:
- Privacy Guard
- Credit Karma
- Identity Force
- Identity Guard
- Experian Identity Works
- Ultimate 3B Credit Monitoring
- TransUnion Credit Monitoring.
The only one of these that offers a free service for credit monitoring is Credit Karma.