By Andrew Hatherley on Jan 7, 2020
Let’s state up front that you don’t need a credit monitoring service to stay on top of your credit status. For people who are diligent and deliberate in monitoring their own credit, they can do so by accessing a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus once per year. And, for the credit monitoring critics who will tell you that these services do little to actually prevent identity theft or credit fraud, let’s concede that they are right. But then, nothing except the precautions you take up front can protect you from determined identity thieves. But, for the millions of people each year who fall victim to identity theft, credit card fraud, or mistaken scoring on their credit reports, a systematic and automatic approach to credit monitoring may have enabled them to react a little more quickly to the damage.
About the only real argument that credit report monitoring critics seem to raise is why pay for something that you can do for yourself? While no one can argue with that basic premise, the fact of the matter is that very a relatively low number of people actually order their own credit reports, and those that do are not quite sure of what they are looking at. Simply put, most people need and want to be able to monitor their credit for purposes of improving their credit score range, rebuilding their credit after a bankruptcy, or to keep an eye out for identity theft. That covers the vast majority of Americans.
The problem is that most people find it difficult to give the task the time and attention it needs to be of any real benefit. Even if they do remember to order a credit report three times during the year, many have neither the time nor the ability to comb through them to analyze their current position in relation to their previous position. With so much at stake – future borrowing costs, identity theft alerts, employment opportunities, and insurance costs – it might make sense to hire someone to do a job that you know is important but are unable to properly do on your own. Here are five other reasons why you should consider a credit monitoring service:
- Identity theft can occur at any time: You may be diligent in checking your credit reports three times a year, but an identity thief could be at work right now. A credit monitoring service can report to you on weekly or monthly credit activities which can alert you much sooner.
- All credit reports are not created equal: Each credit reporting company compiles and reports data in its own way. Not only do you have to decipher one credit report for vital information you have to be able to translate between three credit reporting languages. A good monitoring service will decipher the data for you a present you with the essential information you need to determine what changes have occurred in your credit status.
- You can only monitor one credit reporting agency at a time: Most credit monitoring services provide comprehensive coverage of all three credit reporting agencies at one time. This could be very important because not all agencies report activities in the same manner at the same time.
- Your time is worth far more than the $10 to $20 a month they cost: The reports provided by credit monitoring services will save you hours of time. The reports are specific to changes in credit status, new activities, account openings and closings, and anything that affects your credit standing providing you with everything you need to know at a glance.
Your credit standing is priceless. Whether you are trying to improve your score, rebuild your credit, or keep a vigilance over theft and fraud, the actual out-of-pocket cost of a monitoring service is just a fraction of what your costs will be should your identity be stolen, or your credit score falls unnecessarily. Anytime it is absolutely essential that something be done right, the cost should be thought of as an investment, not as an expense.
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