What Is The Best Credit Monitoring Service?

The best credit monitoring service is one that will give you detailed reports from all three reporting agencies. This type of service is best because it is giving you the whole picture of your credit score instead of just a snapshot. A good agency will also monitor your credit to look for signs of identity theft. 

What is a "Detailed Report?"

For a report to be detailed, it needs to illustrate not just what your score is and has been over time but why. This means your report should show you a month-by-month illustration of all positive and negative factors affecting your credit score. Those factors include any late payments, credit lines opened or closed, loans taken out and loans paid off. You should also be able to see a listing of all your active credit lines and details about your limits and balances on each. These are the factors used in determining your score, so you need to see all of them to understand how to improve your credit score. 

Why all Three Agencies?

Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are nationally recognized as the "three agencies." They each use very similar formulas for determining your credit score, but usually all provide scores that are slightly different. One of the agencies may also receive information on your credit that the other two do not receive. When this occurs, it is a red flag for you to verify that information, such as a late payment or collections agency report. If there is erroneous information, submit a complaint to the credit agencies and asked the information be removed. 

Which Services Meet the Requirements?

There are a number of easy-to-use services that will provide you with detailed reports from the various agencies. Identity Guard and True Credit come highly recommended from users. FreeCreditReport.com and other online services tend to be the most user friendly. They also have easy-to-understand graphics and explanations of your credit score. You will have to provide personal information to use one of these services; ensure you are working with an accredited business by reading reviews and checking with your accountant or banker. It is also important to note the monitoring is not actually "free," but it typically costs under $20 per month. 

What are Credit Counseling Services?

Credit counseling or credit management services are different than credit monitoring services, and you should be careful when choosing between the two. Monitoring services simply review your credit score when you request a report. Counseling and management services will provide you will advice and assistance to maintain good credit. When you hire a counseling or management service, you will notice a higher degree of involvement, typically including a personal relationship with a credit counselor. If you are seeking advice, this may be a good place to turn. If you are only looking to monitor your score and protect your identity, you should opt for a credit monitoring service only.



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