Are you concerned about fraud or identity theft? Does the thought of discovering that someone has impersonated you and stolen anywhere between hundreds and thousands of dollars in your name give you anxiety? Then credit monitoring might be an option worth pursuing.
What is Credit Monitoring?
Credit monitoring is pretty much what it sounds like – you enlist one of the various financial companies out there to keep an eye on your credit for you and to loop you in the second there’s a concern or a change to your credit accounts.
These services aren’t free and will typically cost you anywhere between $15 and $20 a month. Canada’s two main credit bureaus – TransUnion and Equifax – both offer credit monitoring services. TransUnion’s costs $19.95 a month while Equifax charges $16.95. After last year’s Equifax data leak, you might (understandably) want some other options.
If that’s the case, there are a number of other companies that offer similar services in roughly the same price range. Some examples are Identity Guard, Credit Alert, and FirstReport. Recently launched in Canada, Credit Karma also offers free credit monitoring. Some banks will also offer credit monitoring to their customers.
Is Credit Monitoring Worth It?
Many experts say the credit monitoring services offered are not worth the monthly fee. You can request your credit report by mail or online whenever you want to review it, and if it’s existing credit accounts you’re worried about, you can check your transaction history and balances more frequently through online banking.
That being said, if you have been a victim of identity theft in the past, it’s easy to understand the desire for the peace of mind that comes with more frequent and up to date monitoring.
What Other Alternatives Exist?
In addition to manually checking your accounts and your report more often, there are a number of other, cheaper options you can look into to protect yourself and your credit score.
Most banks offer mobile banking which allows you to set up alerts for suspicious activity. You can also set up an alert for whenever your account dips below a certain amount or when withdrawals over a certain amount are made.
Your best bet to protect your credit information is to be proactive. As soon as you notice your wallet or credit card info is missing, call your bank immediately and report it. Your bank will put a freeze on all of the cards that have gone missing and will issue you a new card with a new number.
Be wary about emails, letters in the mail, and phone calls requesting your personal information and credit card number. If you’re not sure about the authenticity of the source, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In addition, when getting rid of any old mail containing information with your name, phone number, address, etc on it, make sure to shred it before discarding so you’re not taken advantage of by a thief.