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Monitoring your credit score is essential in today's times. Not only is having a good credit score and credit history important in obtaining an affordable car loan or renting an apartment, it can determine whether you get a job and are able to put food on the table for your family. To further accentuate the importance of knowing your credit score, over $1 billion in identity theft occurs each year.
Proactively managing and monitoring your credit is the only way to protect yourself from being the next victim. Being in tune with your credit score and real time credit activity has never been more important. In the past few years, credit report and monitoring services have popped up and gained the business of millions of American people. However, not all credit report services are alike.
Equifax leads the way in credit report and monitoring services. While you may have heard their name, you might not be aware that they've been in business for over 100 years and employ over 7,000 people across 15 different countries. In addition to credit reports, Equifax is well versed in credit intelligence, portfolio management, fraud detection, and more.
Equifax offers 2 different consumer credit report and monitoring plans, one for individuals and the other for families. These comprehensive plans offer a variety of features.
Enhanced Plan. This plan is best suited for individuals, and includes the following:
Family Plan. This plan is similar to the Enhanced Plan, with the following additional features:
With Equifax you can take advantage of their online dispute service for credit accounts, collections, liens and more. They put their customers at ease by offering a sophisticated and systematic approach to fixing credit and identity theft issues.
Equifax provides top-notch credit reports and monitoring at a very affordable price. Their website provides a great deal of information and their customer service team is outstanding. With the level of service and information that Equifax provides, they clearly earn our highest rating.
Many are familiar with Free Credit Score from the numerous TV commercials aired frequently. The catchy jingle depicts a young man with credit issues as a result of his lack of credit monitoring. As a result, he can't buy a house or a decent car and holds an evening job in a restaurant or a renaissance festival, and drives a lousy car. If you haven't seen these commercials you soon will.
When you sign up with Free Credit Score you receive a free credit report from Experian, your credit score (also from Experian), and use of their credit monitoring service for 7 days. The credit monitoring service scans activity across all three major credit bureaus and notifies you via email when specific activity occurs.
Activity such as credit checks, new accounts or any other changes that occur are sent to you within 24 hours of the incident. This allows you to quickly inquire directly with the company in question. If you decide, before the 7 day trial period, that you are not satisfied with the credit monitoring service you must call to cancel your membership. Otherwise, you're automatically charged $14.99 every month until you cancel the program.
We appreciate that Free Credit Score was very upfront with the trial period. They are fairly straightforward about their service offering but unfortunately they lack many of the bells and whistles the higher ranked companies provide. One disappointment we had is the absence of any consumer education on how your credit activity impacts your credit score, how to file claims with credit bureaus, and how to take action on fraudulent activity affecting your credit. Free Credit Score is missing insurance protection as well, and therefore doesn't offer any financial assistance in the event of identity theft.
While we like the commercials and catchy jingle, we recommend a higher ranked product that gives you more for you money.
My FICO offers a number of services including FICO Quarterly Monitoring for only $49.95 per year or $4.95 per month. While this is certainly very affordable, the services provided are also less frequent and thorough.
My FICO does allow you to cancel your subscription at any time and they provide a 20% discount on additional FICO scores purchases and TransUnion credit reports. That said, My FICO works solely with TransUnion and does not provide any comprehensive three-agency reporting. This does bring concern as accounts and fraud can occur with any agency and may not appear on TransUnion ever.
FICO Quarterly Monitoring reviews 400 data sources on a weekly basis. Email alerts are sent if any of the following occur that are tied to your identity:
FICO Quarterly Monitoring also provides you with your TransUnion credit score and credit report every three months. Within the report you may determine if any suspicious activity, new accounts, or other issues have occurred within that time frame that you weren't previously aware of.
Identity Theft Insurance is provided within the FICO Quarterly Monitoring subscription and includes assistance with resolving any identify theft events. You access their assistance line from a toll-free number managed 5 days a week. Identity theft insurance coverage is up to $25,000 for associated costs.
My FICO's credit reporting is only comprised of one reporting agency and therefore limits the entire picture of your true credit activity. We also felt the weekly monitoring was not as proactive as the daily reporting offered from our top-ranked services, and therefore allowed the potential for several theft events to occur before you're made aware of the risk.
Credit Reporting provides a comprehensive, three credit bureau report plus credit all scores for $44.85 per request. The reports are easy to read and allow for a quick comparison across all three bureaus. The reports are sent online and come within seconds of your purchase. While we liked the looks of the reporting we have concerns with the philosophy behind this company's approach to appropriately monitoring changes to your credit.
Credit Reporting does not provide any daily monitoring of changes to addresses, credit inquiries, late payments, new accounts and more. They leave the monitoring up to the consumer to frequently purchase reports. Insurance is also not an option, and neither is proper support to identify and resolve identity theft issues. If a consumer wanted to use Credit Reporting for monthly monitoring it would cost them over $500 per year, which clearly exceeds the cost of all other providers.
In the end, we felt that Credit Reporting provided limited services for the price. The company lacks proactive measures necessary in today's environment as well as adequate support to resolve serious issues identified in the reporting. This company is also missing effective tools to review the progress of your credit over time.
Credit Report provides a straightforward website but with bare bones information. Forget about tools and customer support to assist you. The $14.95 monthly free provides a single credit report and monitoring service.
By ordering your free credit report and free credit score, you will automatically be enrolled in a 7 day free trial of 3 bureau credit monitoring and credit score tracking. You'll receive automatic email alerts whenever there is a significant change to any of your credit reports or when there is an important shift in your credit score.
What those alleged "significant changes" are, was not made available to us to determine if the effort is in fact thorough. For each month that you continue your membership your credit card will be billed $14.95. You may cancel anytime - there is no obligation.
This company has been in business for over 10 years and provides a direct link to the Better Business Bureau to identify their rating and any negative business dealings. This company rates above average with most complaints centering around issues with bad charges back in 2007.
Overall, Credit Report was lacking across the board in tools and information. We recommend a higher ranked provider.
Free Score 360 offers not only a "Free" 3-in-1 credit report but also a savings club membership. This brought instant concerns to us knowing that an unrelated "Savings Club" is of no benefit to us when our focus is on our credit. Also, until you read the fine-print language you really aren't aware that you are signing up for a monthly service that costs $29.95, billed directly to your credit card. In our mind, these are the type of companies that look and feel like scam artists.
When we focused in on the actual credit reporting provided by Free Score 360 we found that the monthly report includes information from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The report merges all information and provides scores from each bureau as well. The reports are simple to read and allow for an easy comparison between results for accuracy. The report is provided via an online tool only. Reports are not emailed, you must print a copy for yourself to keep.
Free Score 360 provides daily monitoring of credit. Any changes to your credit are reported within 24 hours of the update. What specific aspects of credit changes that are reported was unavailable and therefore presents concern regarding the scope of their monitoring.
All in all, after fully reviewing this company, we continued to have serious concerns regarding the level of legitimacy. We found numerous customer complaints regarding the free credit report, trying to cancel and still getting charged $29.95 each month. Rather than spend the exorbitant monthly fee for this service, we recommend one of the higher ranked companies in our review.
Some companies provide a wide list of credit related services to meet all your credit reporting needs, while others provide only bare basics with little or no customer assistance. Some companies offer insurance up to $1,000,000 and some provide very little to no coverage in the event that identity theft does occur.
If your goal is to improve your credit while effectively avoiding identity theft you'll want to choose a credit report service that specifically meets your needs. This includes assistance with disputing credit report errors, monitoring the progress of improving your credit, providing a knowledgeable staff to answer all your questions, offering insurance to pay for identity theft, and more.
With a number of credit report and monitoring services available today it's important to consider some key aspects of each company before making a decision. Some of these factors include:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best credit report services available today. We hope these reviews help you find out your credit score and credit history right away!
Why Should You Check Your Credit Report?
Would you go for months without checking the balance of your bank account? Would you ignore reviewing your monthly credit card statement under the assumption that all the charges on it were valid? Chances are, if you're like most people, you wouldn't.
The same rule applies to your credit report. It should be reviewed at least once annually, and ideally 3 times a year or more, to make sure everything is in order.
What, exactly, is a credit report? It is the compilation of an individual's financial history, from their first bank account to their latest credit card, it's all in there. The history of where a person has taken out credit - as well as whether they've been able to pay on time or are chronically late with repaying their debts - is all included in one handy document. Financial brokers, credit card companies, potential employers and any creditor with whom you wish to do business has the right to view you credit history.
Credit history also is used to assign a credit score to each individual. The score is calculated through a mathematical algorithm, which pulls data from the credit report and generates a three-digit number. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Persons with scores over 700 are considered to be in good financial standing and rarely are turned down by creditors. They also are able to secure the best interest rates on loans.
Knowing your credit score, as well as how it can affect your everyday life, is a valuable tool for all consumers. Credit histories and credit scores are used to determine credit-worthiness by credit card companies, cell phone providers, utility companies and even landlords and insurance companies. Having a bad credit report can have lifelong consequences for the consumer.
Credit reports are issued through three major reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Each of the three agencies compiles its own report on individual consumers, and each report may vary slightly from the others.
There are many reasons why consumers should make a habit of viewing their credit reports:
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