There are many sites that offer free credit monitoring, but bombard you with ads to “upgrade” your account.
In some cases, this is a clear case of bait-and-switch, and these sites are deliberately trying to mislead you. What they don’t tell you is that paying for credit monitoring is simply unnecessary.
Free and Easy Credit Monitoring
As I’ve talked about before in Credit Basics, you should FIRST get your reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. After you have done this, and have a hard-copy of your file, you will then want to take advantage of some of the sites that “monitor” your credit.
Register with a site such as Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. These sites will alert you to any changes found on your reports, such as a new inquiry or account. You do NOT have to pay for any of their additional services, nor should you.
Credit Monitoring and FICO Score from Your Credit Cards
Credit card companies such as Discover, Capital One, and many others, also offer the option of getting your FICO score every month. This is another reason that you should never have to pay for your FICO score, or credit monitoring. You probably already have it, and simply haven’t been using it!
The next time you log into your credit card account, look at the “benefits” or “member services” area. You just might be surprised that they offer you a free credit report or credit score each month.
Freezing Credit Reports
Still another option is to freeze your credit reports. Freezing your reports prevents any hard credit inquiry, and thus makes it almost impossible for anyone to steal your identity.
The downside of freezing your reports is that the big-3 credit reporting agencies will either charge you to freeze it, or charge you to LIFT a freeze. However, if you do not expect to apply for credit in the foreseeable future, this is a great way to prevent access to your credit file.
The bottom line is that credit monitoring does not have to cost you anything out of your pocket. Get your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com, and then let the other services alert you when any changes pop up on your report. ♦