Like most things in life, the best credit monitoring services don’t come for free. Most credit protection companies require you to pay a monthly or yearly subscription to receive protection. However, when you are considering the alternative – potentially losing hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars to identity thieves – it may be worth the investment.
In fact, statistics show that 1 in 20 Americans are affected by identity theft each year. Why take the chance?
Credit monitoring is a tedious and timely task. If you do not have the time or interest to sit down each month and review your credit activity, you could miss potential warning signs. Catching identity theft early is the key to protecting yourself from fraud. If it goes unnoticed, you could face steep fines and penalties for things like tax fraud, insurance fraud or other crimes that are not your fault.
Most credit monitoring companies offer a variety of packages to choose from, each of which has different services, benefits and price points. Before choosing a package, there are a few factors to consider.
If you use your debit or credit card daily, credit protection is essential. Each time you use your card at a store, gas station or even online, your sensitive information becomes vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Even retail giants like Target, Walmart and BestBuy are not exempt from cybercrime. Data breaches occur frequently, and if you use your card at any of these locations, you could subject yourself to identity theft without knowing it.
Credit monitoring services not only monitor your credit but also stay on top of these data breaches. Most companies will alert you as soon as a data breach is confirmed, allowing you to shut down your card if necessary to protect your money. Some even have features that allow you to lock your sensitive information from a smartphone app.
If you have access to free credit monitoring services through your bank or credit card company, it’s a good first step. However, most free services do not provide the same comprehensive protection. If you have a free credit monitoring service and lose money in an identity theft scheme, you may not get reimbursed for your loss. If the service does offer reimbursement, it likely will not be for the full amount.
It may be a good idea to use both free and paid-for credit monitoring companies to ensure you are fully protected. Continue reading to learn more about the best credit monitoring services available and how to choose the right one.