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Keep an Eye on your Credit Score with the Best Credit Monitoring Sites

By Amanda Curry · Aug 8, 2016 · Mortgage

Keep an Eye on your Credit Score with the Best Credit Monitoring Sites

Image courtesy of Flickr, Leandro Scarano

Pulling your credit score can tell you where you stand before applying for a loan. In an effort to help you monitor your credit score, we've researched the top credit monitoring services.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 17.6 million Americans - about 7% of US residents age 16 or older --- were victims of identity theft in 2014. About 86% of victims experienced the misuse of an existing credit card or bank account. With technology continuing to advance and evolve over the years, there are no signs that hackers are expected to give up stealing identities in the near future.

If you are concerned about becoming a victim to identity theft, there are ways to protect yourself. Regularly monitoring your credit is one of the best ways to stay on top of your credit history and your identity.

Aside from monitoring your credit score for theft protection reasons, pulling your credit score can tell you where you stand before applying for a loan. This is important because your credit score can affect your interest rate, so checking your credit score before refinancing your current home or buying a new one can be a valuable tool when determining if you meet the requirements for a new home loan.

In an effort to help you monitor your credit score, we've researched the top credit monitoring services.

Best Credit and Identity Theft Monitoring Services

If you are looking for a comprehensive credit monitoring service, we've rounded up our top picks:

Identity Guard

Identity Guard has received top remarks by individuals and leading consumer reporting publications. Consistently, Identity Guard is praised as not only a comprehensive program that monitors changes in your credit score, but it also provides some of the best identity theft protection in the industry.

Highlights of the service includes:

  • 3 Bureau Credit Monitoring (Gold, Total Protection & Platinum plans only)
  • $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance
  • Lost Wallet Protection
  • Account Takeover Alerts
  • ID Vault Password Protection
  • Anti-Virus and Firewall Protection
  • Support and Assistance for Getting Back on Track after an Identity Crisis

Identity Guard provides consumers with all 3 Credit Scores and 2 Bureau Credit monitoring, from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, to give you a comprehensive picture of your credit rating.

Every business day, Identity Guard watches and monitors your credit files and will notify you quickly if your credit score changes. Users can also view their credit report and score anytime through their Identity Dashboard.

The service also proactively monitors your personal information, such as your name and Social Security number. If the system detects any sort of fraudulent activity, you'll be notified quickly so that you can rectify the situation.

Identity Guard doesn't just monitor your credit score; it also works to protect your personal information, too. The system includes an Anti-Virus to keep your PC safe from threats with antivirus and firewall protection, as well as Password Protection to store your login credentials and credit card information. The system's Privacy Protect encrypts keystrokes, making them unintelligible to malware, so you can enjoy peace of mind while browsing the Internet securely.

Lastly, if your personal information is ever stolen, Identity Guard will help you get your identity back. Their Personal Recovery Assistance program consists of experts that will guide you through the process of recovery and resolution.

When you sign up for Identity Guard's free trial period, you'll also receive the Identity Guard service free for 30 days then $14.99 thereafter unless you cancel your membership.

LifeLock

LifeLock helps consumers actively protect their identity and credit. This service monitors applications for credit cards, bank accounts, utilities and other services within an extensive network for attempts to use your personal information. When fraudulent activity is detected, you will receive an alert via email or phone. Plus, if your wallet goes missing, LifeLock can cancel or replace the contents quickly. Highlights of LIfeLock include:

  • Identity Threat Detection
  • Identity Threat Alerts
  • Black Market Website Monitoring
  • Lost Wallet Protection
  • $1M Identity Theft Protection

LifeLock monitors thousands of black-market websites. These types of websites are where thieves buy and sell stolen information. If your personal information shows up there, you are alerted. For $29.99, the Ultimate Plus Plan includes reports from all three credit bureaus, credit-inquiry alerts, sex-offender registry reports, and monthly credit score tracking, among other features.

Best Free Credit Reporting Systems

If you are less concerned about ID theft protection, check out these credit reporting tools:

Credit Karma

Credit Karma is exclusively partnered with TransUnion. The company believes that consumer's credit scores should be free. Their platform allows users to view their score and reports at any time and see offers tailored to your individual credit profile. Other credit tools include:

  • Free credit report card
  • Analysis of credit and loans
  • Manage all credit and debt in one place
  • Credit report card
  • Credit score simulator

Users note that this interface is incredibly easy to use and consumers enjoy having all of their information in one place.

The platform is completely secure. In fact, Credit Karma uses a 128-bit encryption to protect the transmission of data to their site. This helps prevent others from accessing your personal information. You'll never have to worry about Credit Karma affecting your credit since Credit Karma is a soft inquiry.

Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame is partnered exclusively with TransUnion. Unlike some of the other free credit reporting systems, Credit Sesame includes free identity theft protection. With Credit Sesame, you also get $50,000 in identity theft insurance, plus fraud resolution assistance for free. With credit Sesame, you can expect:

  • TransUnion credit report alerts
  • $50K identity theft insurance and ID restoration help
  • Credit and debt management all in one place
  • Convenient mobile app
  • Analysis of credit and loans

Despite having a lot of ads on their platform, it's nice for users to have the added bonus of free identity theft protection roped into their credit monitoring platform.

Free Credit Report or a Credit Monitoring Service?

Under the US law, you're entitled to a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. You can to AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain this report. Since you can pull your credit report for free each year, you may be wondering why you should use a credit monitoring service.

Here are a few good reasons to consider:

Catch Identity Theft

Although you can pull your annual credit report for free once every 12 months, this really won't do you any good for catching identity theft.

Signing up for a credit monitoring service will notify you if someone fraudulently opens an account in your name. And, if you do happen to run into some trouble with an identity crisis, many of these services offer tools and support that will guide you through the process of combatting fraud.

Accuracy Issues

Unfortunately, according to the Federal Trade Commission, credit reports specifically from the three major credit reporting agencies may not be accurate.

The study concluded that more than one in four people had potential errors on at least one of their credit reports. This confirms that it is important to monitor all three credit reports for the most accurate metrics.

FICO Score and Loan Interest Rates

The free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com does not include your FICO score. Your FICO score is the number that lenders, landlords, employers, etc., use to assess your creditworthiness.

The FICO score ranges from a high 850 to a low of 300. The higher the score, the less of a risk you represent. This will allow you to get a better interest rate on loan. If you are looking to get the best interest rate on a loan, you can compare hundreds of loans at once with Be Smartee.


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