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What Is Credit Monitoring?

Want to keep close tabs on your credit?

Consider a credit monitoring service. With credit monitoring, you’ll receive updates alerting you of any changes in your credit file.

Some services monitor your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Others only monitor your credit reports from one or two of the credit reporting agencies.

Prices vary as do the additional services offered. Some credit monitoring services will monitor your Social Security number as well, in case you are worried that this number has been compromised in some way.

When are credit monitoring services important? There are instances when you’ll want to keep an extra close watch on your credit.

For example, if you are or suspect you may be the victim of fraud or identity theft you will want to make sure a thief isn’t opening new credit accounts in your name or charging one of your current accounts to the hilt this month or six months from now.

Or maybe there has been a mix-up in your credit file and someone else’s credit record, with some less-than-stellar activities, has been mixed together with yours.

You may want to take extra care with your credit if you are going through a breakup or divorce and are concerned a significant other or roommate may be impacting your credit in a negative way.

Keeping a close eye on your credit is especially important if you have plans to buy a home or car within the next year and want to ensure your credit record is as good as possible so you can qualify for the best interest rates.

There are ways of monitoring your credit without paying for a credit monitoring service.

You can get a free credit score twice a month plus a customized action plan from experts for improving your score — all for free on

How to Use Free Credit Monitoring Tools

It’s smart to stay on top of changes in your credit throughout the year by checking and monitoring your credit reports.

A mistake or mix-up in your credit file could hurt your credit score, as could credit missteps that you make on your own.

Keeping your credit history accurate and up to date is an important financial safety tip. Who wants to pay more than necessary the next time they apply for a credit card, mortgage or car loan?

And it’s important for your peace of mind. If there is a mistake in your file, it is up to you to fix it. Many people decide to monitor their credit to battle identity thieves. If a thief opens a new credit account in your name, these tools can be your first alert system and you’ll need to take steps to clear your credit reports from any fraudulent information.

Having an accurate and error-free credit report is especially important if you plan to apply for a loan in the upcoming year.

Luckily for consumers, getting a free copy of your credit report each year from the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – is easy and you’re entitled to them under federal law. You can order and review your credit report online or request that a paper copy be sent to you in the mail.

Review each copy of your credit report carefully. Report errors and suspected fraudulent activity immediately. This step-by-step guide will show you how.

In addition to monitoring your credit reports from each of the major credit reporting agencies, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit score throughout the year.

You can get your credit score for free every month on, as well as a breakdown of your credit strengths and weaknesses. A big, unexpected change in your credit score from month to month can signal possible fraudulent activity.

How Credit Monitoring Pays Off Down the Road

If scammers or thieves intercept your personal financial information, like your Social Security number, date of birth or credit card information, and opens credit accounts and loans in your name, you’ll have a credit mess to clean up.

Identity theft can happen at restaurants, small businesses, through skimmers at ATMs and online — the possibilities are endless.

An identity thief may also nab your personal financial information by swiping bank and credit card statements, as well as other sensitive documents from your mailbox. That’s why it’s so important to shred documents with personal information and account numbers before recycling them.

Your credit and bank accounts can also be compromised through a data breach.

With so many ways for your credit record to be hurt by a thief or fraudster, it’s important to develop good credit monitoring practices.

You can monitor your credit record for free on You’ll receive a free credit score each month plus tips and expert advice on improving your credit.

An unexpected change in your credit score from month to month may signal that something is amiss with your credit. And you’ll be able to act quickly to stop a fraudster from hurting your credit record.

Another way to monitor your credit for free (thought not as frequently) is by requesting a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Here’s a quick guide to helping you do that.

If you have been a victim of identity theft, online scam or data breach, you may wish to sign up for a paid, credit monitoring service.

Credit monitoring services and prices vary, so shop wisely and be sure to carefully read the terms before signing up.

Credit monitoring can pay off in a big way. Identity theft is a multi-billion dollar business, and scammers can cost you money in several ways. They can do damage to your credit that can cost you money when applying for a loan, and they can also take money that belongs to you — filing for tax refunds in your name. Monitoring your credit can help you act quickly when an identity thief strikes and limit the impact they have on your finances.

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