Do You Need to Pay for Credit Monitoring?

by Miranda Marquit · 0 comments

Chances are, you’ve seen plenty of ads regarding credit monitoring. If you are concerned about making sure that your credit is regularly checked, and changes in the situation are sent to you, credit monitoring can seem like a good idea. However, you need to be careful; not every item on your credit report deserves attention, and there are some very real flaws in many credit monitoring programs.

Flaws in Credit Monitoring Programs

As you decide whether or not you want to pay for a credit monitoring program, you need to seriously consider the possible flaws in these programs. Here are some of the things that make credit monitoring programs less than helpful:

  • No protection against stolen credit cards.
  • Fraudulent accounts can take months to appear.
  • No mention of “fragmented files.” When your Social Security number is used with a different name, a new file is created. Since your name isn’t on the file, you might not even be aware that someone is using your Social Security number to apply for credit. Only by looking at your report, and seeing other names attached to your SSN can you catch these types of thieves.
  • Frequent updates and alerts, including those for actions you take yourself, can start to become annoying.

Most basic credit monitoring programs also don’t provide monitoring for public records, and other red flags that you might not be aware of.

Should You Pay for Credit Monitoring?

Often, you end up signing up for credit monitoring as part of your efforts to get a free credit score, or look at your credit report for $1. You visit these sites, enter your credit card information, and you agree to credit monitoring for anywhere between $7.99 and $29.99 a month (or more). The burden is on you to remember to cancel after you get the promised credit product and before your free trial is up. If you don’t, your card is charged each month.

For some people, paying for credit monitoring provides peace of mind, and they think the cost is worth it. However, it’s worth noting that you can do your own credit monitoring. You can get a free credit report from each bureau once a year. Spaced out, you can keep a fairly close eye on your credit situation, without paying anything. It’s also possible to keep an eye on things by paying attention to your bank and credit card accounts. Watch for suspicious activity, and make sure that you stay on top of the situation.

In many cases, it’s not necessary to pay for credit monitoring. Indeed, the FTC doesn’t endorse credit monitoring products. Instead, the FTC offers a helping guide to detecting identity theft, and resolving the situation. While you might think that paying for credit monitoring provides you with a general idea of how things are going, you do still need to be careful, and vigilant. Just because you have credit monitoring doesn’t mean that you are protected from identity theft, and you need to be mindful of the limitations of many credit monitoring products.

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