Using a credit monitoring site can not only protect you from fraud and identity theft, but keep you up-to-date and informed about the factors impacting your score.
Other than your social security number, is there a more important number than your credit score? Credit scores and reports are not only used to determine your eligibility and interest rates for loans, credit cards, cell phone bills, and apartments, but negative scores can impact your employment opportunities and even your relationships. In today’s digital climate, it is also becoming harder and harder to kept the accounts that impact your credit file safe.
In 2017 alone, the IRS, Verizon, Gmail, Yahoo, Uber, ebay, Xbox Online, Verifone, Sakes Fifth Avenue, Kmart, Intercontinental hotels, and a handful of other retailers all suffered data breaches that potential exposed users personal and financial information. Oh yeah, and Equifax, one of the three main credit agencies, suffered one of the worst hacks on record with everything from Social Security Numbers and Driver’s License to bank account and credit card numbers exposed. As a result keeping tabs on your credit score and report have never been more important.
Fortunally, there are some great services that are inexpensive or free to help you keep up to the minute tabs on the information in your credit file:
1. Credit Sesame (BBG Recommended) – Credit Sesame is a web and app based service that offers free credit and ID monitoring that alerts you when there are any changes to score or report. They offer complete views of both your credit and debt balances, while their credit score dashboard assigns a grade to the five main factors that impact your score (payment history/negative accounts, credit usage, credit age, account mix, and credit inquiries). They also offer steps to improve each area and recommendations for credit cards, personal loans, and emergency savings accounts. For $9.95 a report, they also offer access to your full credit report from TransUnion. If your Identify is compromised, Credit Sesame also offers a step by step resource to restore your identity and even offers identity theft insurance that covers up to $50k in damages for all FREE members.
*Credit Sesame used to offer premium memberships which feature reports from all three bureaus but that service is currently “on hiatus” according to their website
2. Credit Karma – Like Credit Sesame, Credit Karma is another independent credit and ID monitoring service that offers free access to monthly credit scores, notifications of changes to accounts, recommendations for credit cards and personal loans, and paid options to purchase full credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax. Unlike Credit Sesame, Credit Karma offers a free service to help you find unclaimed money in your name from all 50 state governments and offers free guided filing of both your federal and state taxes.
3. Quizzle (Best Paid Option) – Quizzle is a relatively new service that offers many of the same perks as Credit Sesame and Credit Karma using reports from TransUnion. However, Quizzle not only offers a free updated credit score every three months, but allows you to view your entire credit report as well. For $8 a month, you can upgrade Quizzle to include monthly updates of your credit score and credit report along with additional tools to help you track your score over time. For $15 a month, Quizzle offers Quizzle Pro which offers 24/7 credit monitoring, tri-bureau dispute resolution services, global identity scan that searches websites for your personal information, and a $1 million identity theft insurance policy.
4. Check your credit card providers – many credit card providers are offering credit monitoring services as part of your membership including Capital One (CreditWise), Discover, and Citi from including your credit score as part of your monthly credit card statement to access to your full report and identity theft monitoring.
Without spending a dime, there are many options for keeping tabs on your credit. Do yourself a favor and take the time to sign up for a service to avoid any surprises when you apply for a loan, head to a job interview, or open a new credit card.