If you’re curious about your credit score, whatever you do, don’t go to Experian to get it. A woman named Barbara Francis logged onto Experian’s website to get her credit score and report, thinking it would only cost her $1. She failed to read the fine print and was automatically enrolled for a 7-day trial of an identity theft monitoring service that, once the trial ended, cost $24.99 each month.
According to the NBC story, “Francis was still within the trial period and tried to cancel by phone and email, but said she did not receive a response.”
No doubt, it’s important to monitor your credit and watch to make sure it’s error free and there are no signs your identity has been stolen, but considering Barbara’s experience, Experian’s product is likely not the best choice.
Remember, a free credit monitoring service should never ask for your credit card or checking account information in order to sign up, so if you’re considering one that does, you might want to look at one of these three tools, instead:
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major nationwide credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — each year through annualcreditreport.com.
We recommend spacing these out so that you’re getting a report every four months throughout the year. Set a calendar reminder up ahead of time to remind you. You can get a copy of the report delivered instantly online or shipped within a few weeks if requested by mail or phone.
- CreditWise by Capital One
Capital One offers its CreditWise monitoring service to everyone, even people who do not have their credit card. They utilize TransUnion for the information provided and currently offer three services within CreditWise. Along with helping you to understand the key factors that impact your credit score, they send email alerts whenever there are changes on your credit report; and provide access to your credit report so you can look for signs of error, theft, or fraud. They advise that using CreditWise will not hurt your credit score.
- Free Credit Monitoring from Your Bank or Card Issuer
Many banks and card issuers now offer free credit monitoring services. A good example is the Discover Card, which advertises this service frequently on TV. It is possible that your bank or card issuer may already offer it, so you won’t have to go to a third party or pay for it to get monitoring. Best yet, you don’t have to give your personal information to someone who doesn’t already have it.
The Bottom Line
By all means, we agree you should take advantage of free credit monitoring. But remember monitoring only gets you so far — if you do discover your identity has been stolen, you’ll certainly want someone who can fix the mess, that’s why it’s important to pay for a fully managed identity theft restoration service. That’s because there are many types of identity theft that won’t even show up on your credit report. If your identity is stolen, you’ll certainly want someone who can fix the mess.
LibertyID is the AAA of identity theft protection, offering the most effective identity theft restoration and protection service. Sign up for an annual subscription and rest easy knowing that if your identity is stolen, we will fix it. There’s no limit to the time or money we will spend restoring your identity to pre-event status. A certified restoration specialist will handle all of the legwork and keep you informed with regular status updates. But just like with AAA, you have to be covered before there’s an incident.
Photo Credit: Free Credit Score, GotCredit, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0