Should You be Using a Credit Monitoring Service?
26 Apr, 2016 / By Jennifer Hamilton
Identity theft is a very difficult problem to deal with, and one that you’re somewhat powerless to stop. The amount of doctors’ offices, government entities, and credit card companies, etc. that has your sensitive information is probably quite extensive. These institutions have your addresses, Social Security number and even your mother’s maiden name. How are you able to trust each and every person who has access to those electronic and paper records to keep it safe from identity thieves? In fact, how can you be sure that the very people who have access to your information aren’t criminals themselves? This is where a credit monitoring service can come in handy. They are a seemingly simple solution to the problem that is stolen personal information. For around $15 every month, banks, credit bureaus and other financial companies will keep an eye out for any signs of your information being potentially stolen.
Credit Monitoring Service Offerings
Credit monitoring services will typically check all three of the credit reports on a daily basis and email or call you if there are any changes. Most companies will also offer you a certain amount guarante for identity theft expense reimbursement and access to an identity theft resolution specialist in the case that your identity is stolen. Most companies will also complete a daily Internet scan in order to search for any unauthorized utilization of your debit and credit cards or your Social Security number. They will also offer you identity theft insurance that will cover expenses such as private investigator services, legal fees that you may incur and lost wages if your identity is stolen.
The Shortcomings of Credit Monitoring Services
Many consumer advocates, which includes the Consumer Reports, actually state that credit-monitoring services is not worth your money due to the fact that they don’t adequately protect against all types of identity theft. For instance they do not protect against someone using your information in order to apply for a job or obtain a cell phone. Additionally, no identity theft protection service will be able to provide you with complete protection.
A major downfall of credit monitoring services is that it doesn’t actually prevent identity theft from occurring in the first place. Unfortunately, it can only notify you once the theft has already occurred. Additionally, the majority of credit monitoring programs’ expense reimbursement offerings won’t apply if your identity has already been stolen before you sign up for their service, even if you have no idea of the theft before signing up.
The Benefits of Credit Monitoring Services
Identity thieves have many ways of going about their business. Some of them belong to an organized crime group, while others use fake checks that contain real account information while others steal the information online through social engineering scams, security breaches and hacking. Some low-tech criminals will target wallets and unlocked mailboxes, as well as Smartphone’s instead of using the Internet. Although you are able to get your credit report for free every year from each of the credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), it’s true that a lot can occur in a year and your credit report may not contain identical information, which can make it hard to locate a red flag if you are only able to check all your reports once a year. When combined with identity monitoring, credit monitoring can offer an additional layer of protection. However, you must weigh the costs of using such a program against the benefit of doing so, and be aware of all of this type of service’s shortcomings.