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Your credit scores play a major role in getting approved for credit cards, mortgages, and more. One option to help you keep on an eye on your credit — and even improve it — is Credible’s marketing partner Experian®.
Unlike other services, Experian lets you add your cell phone bills, utility bills, and even some streaming service payments to your Experian credit file, which could instantly raise your FICO® Score+.
If you’re considering a credit monitoring service, here’s what you should know:
- How do credit monitoring services work?
- When should I use a credit monitoring service?
- Are free credit monitoring services able to catch fraud?
How do credit monitoring services work?
If you enroll with a credit monitoring service, you’ll typically get automatic notifications for changes made to your credit report — such as rises or drops in your credit scores, strange activity, and more.
Keep in mind that the amount of monitoring will vary depending on the service you choose. Here are a few types of alerts you might get from a credit monitoring service.
When you fill out an application for new credit, the lender will typically use a hard credit check to review your credit history. Credit monitoring will keep track of these inquiries, which will also let you know if someone fraudulently applies for credit in your name.
If you take out a new loan, the account will show up on your credit report. Like with credit inquiries, it’s important to keep an eye on your accounts to make sure no one is fraudulently using your identity. A credit monitoring service makes this easier to track.
Your payment history is the biggest factor in your credit scores, comprising 35% of your overall scores. Missed payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, which is why it’s important to keep your accounts in good standing. A credit monitoring service can help you track your payments so you can resolve any issues right away.
Public records and legal judgments
If you file for bankruptcy or have any other public records or legal judgments appear on your credit report, you’ll get a notification from a credit monitoring service. These can have a drastic effect on your credit, so it’s important to know if this type of information is added to your credit report.
Credit file updates
There are several reasons why your credit file might be updated, such as if you move to a new address or change your name. Alerts from a credit monitoring service regarding updates to your credit file can also give you a heads up about potential identity theft if you didn’t make the changes yourself.
*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.
When should I use a credit monitoring service?
In 2019 alone, Americans lost over $1.9 billion to fraud — an increase of $293 million from 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Fraud and identity theft generally go hand in hand, which means monitoring your credit could help you avoid becoming a victim of identity thieves.
This makes a credit monitoring service a good idea for almost anyone at any time, whether you’ve had issues with your credit report or not. Plus, many credit monitoring services like Experian CreditWorksSM Basic are free. The only cost to get started is a few minutes of your time.
Are free credit monitoring services able to catch fraud?
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft in the past, paying for a premium credit monitoring service that tracks all three credit reports and helps you resolve any fraudulent activity might be worth it. But for most people, a free credit monitoring service will likely be enough.
If you’re considering free versus premium services, here are a few features to keep in mind:
|Free credit monitoring||Paid credit monitoring|
|Credit bureaus monitored||1-2||3|
|Identity theft recovery||Might not be included||Typically included|
|Coverage for fraud losses||Typically minimal coverage if available||More generous coverage might be available|
How to spot credit monitoring scams
While there are many reputable and high-quality credit monitoring services available, the industry is also unfortunately ripe with scammers looking to make a quick buck.
If you’re considering a credit monitoring service, make sure the company operates above board and is a good fit for your needs.
It’s also a good idea to search for online reviews — such as through the Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot — to double-check that the company is legitimate.
Here are a few warning signs to watch out for:
- Offers that look too good to be true
- High-pressure sales tactics
- Requests for personal information, such as your credit card number or Social Security number
- Typos and grammatical errors in marketing materials
What can’t credit monitoring services do?
Credit monitoring services can be great tools for detecting fraud, but they can’t actually prevent fraud from occurring.
To defend yourself against fraud, you need to adopt protective habits, such as shredding sensitive documents and protecting your personal information online.
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, also consider adding a fraud alert to your credit report. This will let lenders know to be extra careful of anyone trying to open an account with your information.
- What to Do If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft
- Avoid Being the Victim of a Student Debt Scam
+ Credit score calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model. Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO® Score than FICO® Score 8, or another type of credit score altogether. Learn More.