The first victim of identity theft I met was a college student who had moved to a new apartment. Months after her move, she started getting calls from credit card companies and collections agencies for charges she hadn’t made. After a period of investigation, she determined that a tenant at her former residence had taken the credit card offers addressed to her, then opened a variety of fraudulent accounts.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that identity theft affects as many as 9 million Americans each year. You can, of course, pick up a free credit report each year from AnnualCreditReport.com. But if you want ongoing monitoring of your credit, say to catch ID theft quickly, then there are services for this.
Thankfully, we aren’t alone in our fight against fraud. Different companies provide products and services that can help us monitor our credit reports and protect our identities. Here’s a look at a few of them:
Credit Monitoring Services To Check Your Credit Report
If you’ve ever applied for a mortgage, auto loan, or other types of credit, then you know that your FICO score impacts your credit report. The company who came up with the widely used FICO score system offers several products that track and monitor your credit information. Here are some of the myFICO products you can avail of:
- myFICO Quarterly Monitoring Service for $4.95 a month
- myFICO Score Watch (you can try it for FREE)
- Suze Orman’s FICO Kit Platinum goes for $39.96, after an automatic 20% discount is applied to a one-time fee of $49.95. To apply the discount use this link.
- FICO Standard, an individual FICO credit score and report from TransUnion or Equifax, at a 20% discount (price is $12.76, 20% off regular price of $15.95). To apply the discount, use this link.
A subscription to Lifelock is $10 a month. The service checks your credit information at the major credit bureaus and will request these credit agencies to apply a fraud alert on your account every 90 days. They also do a few helpful tasks such as:
- Shield you from pre-approved credit card offers.
- Provide you with free annual credit reports.
- Assist you in the event that you lose your wallet.
- Alert you to possible fraudulent activity on your accounts.
On top of this, if you become the victim of identity theft while a member, the company will provide you with a wide range of tools and services to “recover your good name”. LifeLock even has a $1 Million Service Guarantee.
The credit bureaus also offer their own ID protection services. Equifax promotes its ID Patrol, which protects your credit file, monitors your credit reports at the three major credit bureaus, monitors internet activity, and offers insurance for identity theft. Their subscription service runs $14.95 per month. They also have a host of other products such as Debt Wise, FICO score monitoring and Equifax Score Watch.
4. Smart Credit
A trial membership with this service will let you sample the Credit Report Lock, free credit scores and analysis, and other benefits such as alerts. Basic membership after the trial ends costs $29.95 a month, while the enhanced membership is $10 more per month.
FreeCreditReports360 has a seven day free trial membership for its Credit Diagnosis program that gives you access to three free credit reports and your credit scores. After the trial, the service costs $29.95 a month. You can also sign up for Your Savings Club, a shopping and savings program that offers you 10% off purchases, at $1 per month.
TrustedID fights identity theft with its tools IDFreeze and CreditLock. Similar to LifeLock, this service can also protect the identities of your family members. The family plan can cost as low as $15.83 per month if you want to pay an annual fee. If you prefer monthly billing, it’s $19.99 a month.
FreeCreditReport has run some amusing commercials lately. While you can indeed get a credit report for free, you’re also enrolled in the company’s Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring program, which costs $14.95 a month. Since Triple Advantage is only free for seven days, you should thoroughly evaluate the service and its value before committing to it.
Before you sign up for any identity protection or anti-fraud service, do some research before you pay any money. For instance, Wired took a look at LifeLock last year, and concluded that while the service can be useful, a patient consumer can do a lot of the legwork on his or her own. In addition, FreeCreditReports360 has a lengthy terms and conditions section — and it’s worth reading every word to know how you’ll be protected in the event of a dispute.