So you’re interested in signing up for a Credit Monitoring Service because of all the data breaches going on around the world. But you want to find out what they cover and is it worth the money. Well in my opinion NO, but before you run away let’s take a look at what they have to offer and what they really don’t provide for you.
You may decide after all to take the leap and sign up for one so don’t leave just yet. Also, my opinion on these service’s comes from my own experience with LifeLock years ago which after my bank account had been hacked I dropped the service but will get to that story a little later here.
Do they really have Proactive Protection of your Identity?
If you’re like I was when I signed up for mine and you think that they are offering you proactive protection on your identity, well your not alone. They like to state things with fancy words that lead you to believe that they will protect you from identity theft and fraud, like using antivirus software and Dark web scans and other high tech words.
But in reality, nobody can, not your antivirus or dark web scan or any other thing they come up with. After all most hackers go after the big corporation’s databases to collect peoples identities and dark web scans are for the most part just nonsense. All the monitoring services can do is alert you to the fact that it has happened.
What about Monetary Reimbursements?
Well, this seems to be a lot like having insurance on the theft of funds which the inexpensive credit monitoring plans offer only a small amount of reimbursement but if you go the for the expensive plan you can get up to a Million dollars of reimbursement.
This probably sounds pretty good cause who wants to pay for fraudulent charges let alone the loss of money. So yeah, why not have some insurance for this.
Well guess what you already do, you have a legal right to reimbursement under the Fair Billing Act as long as you report it within 60 days.
And who wouldn’t do this in that time frame, after all, we want our money back as soon as possible? Even with fraudulent charges to debit cards you can get your money back. All you have to do is check your bank accounts statements at least once a month and you can check your credit report (for free) monthly for suspicious activity.
A Short Story on how this works.
I know this is possible because it has happened to me a couple of times, my most recent was when I took a trip out of town and stopped by a Wendy’s for lunch, a cheeseburger and fries that ended up costing me $430.00 dollars, (yep, you read right).
Of course, I didn’t know at the time, until after I got home from the trip (a few days later) and as I do now on a regular base checked my bank account online.
Low and behold there was a charge from Airbnb for the $430.00 dollars. I got on the phone, called my bank and explained what happened, I was able to fill out the report on the phone and was told it could take up to a week or longer to get resolved. Well, it only took 3 days and I got all of my money back.
So as you can see paying for a credit monitoring service would not have stopped this and I was able to get my money back without too much of a fuss.
A piece of Mind:
This is what they really like to target people with, a piece of mind that they will monitor your credit activity and report any fraudulent activity that might take place and lead you to believe that they can stop someone from obtaining credit under your name and social security number.
Now that may sound good enough for you to go ahead and purchase one such service just so you have that piece of mind. But hey what if you could do the same thing yourself with little work and for free.
How to take care of things yourself:
All you have to do is sign up for a free credit monitoring service like Credit Karma.com (I use this one) and FreeCreditScore.com. These services are free to use as often as you want and are really easy to set up.
When you go in and set up an account with them you have access to your credit scores from all three credit monitoring service (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) where you can see all of your credit histories.
Things like what you owe on your credit cards, how often you make payments, and so on, you can even see how many hard inquiries have been made under your name.
Hard inquiries are when you are applying for credit like personal loans, credit cards, and even utilities, basically anything that requires a credit check.
So as you can see if you check on these reports monthly you can stay on top of what is happening to your credit and if you see an unfamiliar hard inquire to your credit you’ll know that someone has your identity. And the best part is that you can set things up for the service’s to send emails when there is any change to your credit status, this is exactly the same thing paid service do.
How to stop Identity theft:
As you probably have figured out that by just by monitoring your credit won’t stop someone from obtaining credit using your name and social security number because once you see that it has happened, well, it’s a little late. And as much as the paid service would like you to think that they can do it, well, they can’t eighter.
So how are you going to stop this from happening to you, simple, put a freeze on your credit?
By doing this it will prevent anyone from opening any new credit in your name including yourself, and even though this sounds like a hassle it is the only way to prevent thieves from obtaining credit and borrowing money under your name.
Now if you need to open up a loan or obtain credit for something it is really simple to temporarily unfreeze your credit for a day or more so you can apply for whatever credit you need.
Below are the links to the three credit services and their pages where you can freeze your accounts along with help pages to get you started. And when you want to unfreeze them go back to the same page.
- Equifax: Go to https://www.freeze.equifax.com Here is there
help page with more information.
- Experian: Go to https://www.experian.com/freeze/ Here is there help page with more information
- Transunion: Go to https://freeze.transunion.com Here is there help page with more information.
So as you can see you don’t really need to go with a paid service, you can do it all yourself for basically free, you will need to pay $10.00 dollars to each of the above service’s to freeze your credit. Which is a lot cheaper than paying for paid service monthly to do the same thing you can do yourself in a matter of an hour.
Now if you’re thinking that it would be nice to have a paid service on hand in case something does happen like what happened to me with Wendys so they can make the phone calls and everything else. Well, that is where my other story comes into play.
When I was using LifeLock someone had got hold of my checking account number and was spending my money, which I caught in a few days because I like to check my banking account regularly.
So I called LifeLock and informed them so they could take care of this problem. Well, guess what, they explained to me that it would be faster for me to report it to my bank myself and gave me a list of what to tell them.
Well shit, what was I paying them to do, just tell me what I needed to do, So I ended up taking care of the matter myself and had the money back in my account within a week and of course a new bank account number.
So as you can now guess this is why I said No to having a Credit Monitoring Service.
What I recommend in place of a Credit Monitoring Service:
This is all based on my own opinion from my experiences and doing further research on the subject of these services.
- First I recommend that you sign up for Credit Karma.com or FreeCreditScore.com.
- Set them up so that you receive emails pertaining to the activities on your accounts.
- Make a habit of going online and checking your Credit scores at least once a month. They both have apps for your phones to make it even easier to stay on top of it.
- . Pay the $30.00 dollars to Freeze Your Accounts to stop anyone from opening up credit under your name.
- Get in the habit of checking your Bank Accounts Statements at least once a week to make sure there are no strange charges.
These steps will help you more than paying a service to do something that is simple to manage yourself and don’t forget that you do not need their insurance to cover any money that you lose due to any theft, you are Covered by Law as long as you file within 60 days. Now your more than welcome to sign up for this service if you wish, just know that you’re not getting everything that they lead you to believe your getting.
I love hearing from my readers!
So, what are your thoughts on Credit Monitoring Service, do you think they’re worth it and have you had any experience with any of these you would like to share with us.
Just leave your comments and questions in the comment section below.