Everywhere you look, it seems, some company is offering to monitor your credit report – for a fee. Do you need the protection? A recent CNNMoney.com story said most people do not. The article noted that using a credit-monitoring service won’t prevent anyone from opening credit in your name. The only way to do that is to freeze your credit reports at all three bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The story went on to make one exception, noting that if you are planning to buy a house soon and are trying to be especially vigilant about increasing your credit score, Equifax’s Score Watch might be worth the $12.95/month price. The service will let you know when your score hits a certain threshold.
One relatively simple and free way to monitor your own credit for signs of ID theft is to pull one of your free credit reports via Annualcreditreport.com every four months. For example, pull your free report from Equifax in January, TransUnion in May, and Experian in September. Then scan the reports for open credit accounts you don’t recognize.