Fortunately I’ve never been a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft so I always figured that using a credit monitoring service would be an unnecessary expense for me. I never even take advantage of the free annual credit report offered by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. However, I was recently presented with my credit score when doing some refinancing and much to my surprise, there was a blemish on my report for a charge that I have since disputed.
Keeping a clean credit report is imperative these days. Credit monitoring services typically cost around $10-$15 a month and provide customers with unlimited access to their credit report and score as well as notification should any significant changes occur. Some folks will argue that credit monitoring does not prevent fraud, it only makes you aware of it after the fact. I tend to believe that knowledge is power, and if one doesn’t know they’ve been a victim of a fraud or an error, then they won’t have the power to do anything about it. Another argument against these services is that self-monitoring is free. Personally, I know that my life gets too busy sometimes so I don’t trust myself to consistently self-monitor my credit. The blemish on my report had been there for a year before it came to my attention so I worry the disputed charge will be harder to prove (my dispute is still pending).
Among other things, the information in your credit report affects whether you can get a loan or insurance – and how much you will have to pay for it. Potential employers may check your credit report as well. A credit monitoring service is not for everyone, but if you want to keep a close eye on your credit and don’t have the time to do it yourself, there are some great service providers out there. If you think you can stay on top of this task yourself, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s useful and empowering website that can help you do the job: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/credit.shtm .