Credit monitoring services are commercial endeavors that charge a fee to watch over your credit reports. They alert you if they discover any changes to your accounts (or new accounts) detailed in your credit report. If another individual attempts to utilize your data to open a new credit account, the service will tell you immediately (so that you do not wait to discover the damage for months of even years). They can send out these alert messages via text message, email, or phone calls.
Credit monitoring services charge prices ranging from $9.99 to $29.99 per month. It is important for you to understand what you are receiving before you commit to these fees.
Be especially wary about offers for free credit monitoring.
Because of several major data breaches that occurred in recent years, you may be eligible to receive free credit monitoring. Equifax suffered a massive breach in 2017, and Capital One did as well in 2019. Equifax provides four years of free credit monitoring (from all three major credit reporting bureaus) to anyone who was impacted by this.
You can take advantage of it by signing up before January 22, 2020. Capital One notified all Americans whose Social Security numbers were stolen. If you were affected, they provide you with two years of free credit monitoring services (as well as identity protection) via TransUnion.
If you were not awarded free credit monitoring by the data breaches, you can always buy the service on your own. Make certain you understand all services that are included, your rights (and windows) for cancellation, and what rights you have should the service fail to protect you.
You can also take the most important step to protect yourself without paying for credit monitoring. Anyone may obtain a credit freeze by calling the credit reporting bureaus.
Analysts call such a freeze the strongest type of protection from identity theft that will keep them from accessing your credit (without having specific permission).