by Calvin Fellows
Topic: ID Theft
> 3 min read
Your personal credit history plays a factor in everything, from buying a car to renting an apartment. Even if you’re responsible and careful with your money, your financial future could be jeopardized if you don’t carefully monitor your credit for signs of fraud.
The best credit monitoring service is IdentityForce, thanks to its robust insurance and 24/7 support. It has a good basic plan with a reasonable monthly price and still has many features that give you peace of mind. Its free Childwatch add-on protects your children’s future by keeping their identities from being stolen.
Higher-level plans offer more insurance and three-bureau monitoring.
|Best Features||Best in Value||Best for Family||Best Single Bureau||Best Free|
|IdentityForce||LifeLock||Identity Guard||Experian IdentityWorks||TransUnion||Credit Karma|
|Credit Monitoring Bureaus||3||3||3||3||1||1|
|24/7 Customer Support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Social Insight Report||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
- 1 About Credit Monitoring Services
- 2 How to Choose the Right One for You
- 3 Best Credit Monitoring Reviews 2021 (UPDATED)
- 3.1 1. IdentityForce Credit Monitoring - Best Overall
- 3.2 2. LifeLock - Best in Security Features
- 3.3 3. Identity Guard - Best Value
- 3.4 4. Experian IdentityWorks - Best for Families
- 3.5 5. TransUnion Credit Monitoring - Best Single Bureau
- 3.6 6. Credit Karma - Best Free
- 4 Final Thoughts
About Credit Monitoring Services
What is credit monitoring?
Credit monitoring registers your Social Security Number, date of birth, and other personal information, and lets you know when it is used to set up lines of credit in your name. The credit monitoring company sends you alerts if a creditor makes a hard inquiry into your account, which usually indicates an attempt at opening a new line of credit.
Credit monitoring also provides you with quarterly or weekly updates to your overall credit score. Some credit monitoring includes insurance, or it can be upgraded to include dark web monitoring or other forms of identity theft, such as medical identity theft.
What are identity thieves looking for?
Identity thieves usually want your full name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number to try to open a line of credit. They may get this information from hacked online accounts, bills, tax documents, or a stolen purse or wallet. Sometimes usernames, passwords, and driver’s license numbers may also come in handy for someone impersonating you.
Once they have your information, they will try to open a new credit card or other line of credit at a bank that you don’t already have an account at. They will typically open the biggest account possible, then spend as much money they can in a few days before you can even notice.
How can credit monitoring services protect me?
Credit monitoring services protect you by giving you a chance to react and respond to fraud. Usually, new credit cards can be set up with a different email address, so credit thieves can maintain control over the account. Once they switch the account to paperless billing, you might never see any physical sign of the account until the thieves have already run up a huge bill.
If you received an alert indicating fraud, you must take action by telling the credit monitoring company and closing the fraudulent account. The credit monitoring company can help walk you through any remaining steps you should take, including double-checking other bills and accounts.
How to Choose the Right One for You
Credit monitoring services come with different features, and some features are more valuable than others. Older adults, for example, might not need social media monitoring as much as young, tech-savvy users.
Dark web monitoring, three-bureau monitoring, and computer protection software are good features to look for in a credit monitoring service. Individuals with retirement or investment funds may want to get features to monitor those accounts.
If you’re about to buy a house or car, getting the best credit monitoring service with FICO scores can help you fix any credit issues before the purchase. Insurance and reimbursement policies are also essential. Invest in a service with higher limits if you have large amounts of money in savings or checking accounts.
Best Credit Monitoring Reviews 2021 (UPDATED)
1. IdentityForce Credit Monitoring - Best Overall
Strong Protection and Insurance
IdentityForce employs a team of identity protection experts who are available 24/7 for all customers. Both the UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit tiers include up to $1 million in reimbursement for stolen funds, lost wages, and other expenses incurred as a result of fraud.
Get the UltraSecure+Credit tier for three-bureau monitoring and other extended monitoring features. They even offer a 30-day free trial to see all the features for yourself.
Social Media Monitoring
In addition to dark web monitoring and anti-malware and anti-phishing software, IdentityForce allows you to monitor your social media accounts for signs of hacking or abuse. The monitoring looks for spam, hate speech, or other signs that your account may have been hijacked.
It’s an excellent investment for social media mavens or even users who don’t use social media often enough to notice a compromised account.
Each parent account can add a child’s personal information to monitor for signs of identity theft, including applications for government benefits, for just $2.29 per month.
Even young children could have their names or SSNs stolen, so Childwatch provides additional security for your child’s future by making sure they can start adulthood with a clean slate. This puts IdentityForce a level above competitors like Privacy Guard.
2. LifeLock - Best in Security Features
Full Suite of Protection
Credit monitoring from LifeLock includes USPS address change verification, stolen wallet protection, dark web monitoring, and data breach notifications. Personal expense and stolen funds compensation starts at $25,000 and increases at higher tiers.
Higher tiers of LifeLock include protection of retirement and investment accounts, monitoring for three credit bureaus, and ID verification monitoring. Having four tiers available allows a greater selection of features, setting it apart from similar competitors like myFICO and letting families get what they need without overpaying.
Expert Help Available
LifeLock’s customer service team is both friendly and incredibly knowledgeable, with 24/7 phone support available for all customers.
Even the most basic tier includes up to $1 million in reimbursement for lawyers and experts in case they are needed to dispute charges. LifeLock consistently gets good reviews for the level of help they make available in a crisis.
Computer Security Features
LifeLock’s higher tiers include Norton Security features like virus protection, parental controls, secure VPN, and anonymous browsing for multiple computers. Norton’s team also provides free technical support for removing a virus if one somehow slips through their defenses. The combination of computer and general credit protection makes LifeLock and Norton a powerful combination.
3. Identity Guard - Best Value
Three Tiers at Value Pricing
Identity Guard’s standard individual rate is $8.99 per month for their Value tier, but even their most expensive tier is just $24.99 per month. They offer a 15% discount if you pay annually. All three tiers include features like high-risk transactions and dark web monitoring, in addition to standard credit monitoring.
Their Family Plan is also a great deal, with rates as low as $12.50 a month for the annual Value tier. Since the Family Plan includes all household members, it’s perfect for large families.
All three tiers include access to US-based dedicated case managers if any problems arise, plus up to $1 million in insurance and stolen funds reimbursement.
The top tier even includes a Social Insight Report to walk you through your own Facebook posts to show you how you may be sharing too much information online.
Broad Internet Protection
In addition to standard dark web monitoring, Identity Guard uses IBM’s artificial intelligence software called Watson to scan the internet for malicious content.
This includes social media posts from other users who may be sharing your information without your permission. Watson flags any relevant threats, and Identity Guard can walk you through the next steps to protect yourself.
4. Experian IdentityWorks - Best for Families
30-day Trial and Annual Discount
Experian IdentityWorks’ base price is comparable to its competitors, but it increases its value by providing a 30-day free trial to monthly subscribers and two months free if you pay annually.
Both tiers offer dark web monitoring, lost wallet protection, address change verification, and more. The higher tier provides much more detailed services, including sex offender registry monitoring and payday loan monitoring.
The best credit monitoring app in the industry allows users to lock and unlock their Experian credit with just a tap. Though TransUnion and Equifax credit reports require their own separate locks, being able to lock your Experian credit can still provide some protection against fraud.
Direct access to Experian’s expert staff means that any discrepancies can be cleared up quickly, then relayed to the other credit bureaus.
Affordable Family Coverage
In addition to two tiers of individual coverage, Experian has solid family features, making it the best credit monitoring agency for families. Family coverage starts at $14.99 per month for a single parent and up to 10 children and starts at $19.99 per month for 2 parents and up to 10 children.
Adding the premium features only costs $10 more per month, making it a great investment for securing your children’s futures.
5. TransUnion Credit Monitoring - Best Single Bureau
Like Experian, TransUnion’s credit monitoring service offers one-touch credit locking in their smartphone app. Although TransUnion’s monthly service currently only provides credit report updates for their service, you can also lock and unlock your Equifax credit as needed and get urgent alerts for changes to your scores from all three bureaus.
TransUnion also offers up to $1 million in fraud insurance and unlimited access to their team of fraud experts, so it’s a solid investment. When you start your standard single-bureau credit monitoring service, you can pay a one-time fee to access your three-bureau credit report.
TransUnion’s credit monitoring cuts out the middleman to give you email and app alerts almost immediately after someone accesses your credit.
If there’s any sign of trouble in your credit report or a new line of credit is opened without your authorization, just lock your credit and call TransUnion to resolve the disputed changes.
In addition to standard credit report features, TransUnion has a library of educational information to help you make good financial decisions.
They offer personalized debt analysis, credit card spending help, and industry updates from all three credit bureaus. It’s a solid resource if you want detailed information to guide your next financial choices.
6. Credit Karma - Best Free
Free for Limited Functions
Easy to Use
Credit Karma consistently gets the best free credit monitoring service reviews because of its easy-to-use features. There are few false alarms and little extra paperwork to worry about. You can easily access your reports, get important notifications, and lock your TransUnion and Equifax credit as needed.
Credit Karma also has plenty of educational tools, making it a great choice for young adults who are still learning about credit. Members can write reviews of credit cards and other financial tools, creating another free resource for the community to use.
Free, Yet Secure
Credit Karma is a legitimate service that pays for itself by advertising for credit cards and other financial services. They will periodically offer you products that you may be interested in and get an affiliate fee from the advertiser if you get the product.
There are no other fees or catches in their online services, and they add new features regularly.
Includes Data Breach Information
CreditKarma also includes basic data breach notifications. It checks your email address against information exposed during data breaches, then lets you know if your email address, full name, physical address, passwords, or other information may have been exposed.
If you’re still wondering what the best credit monitoring service to use is, IdentityForce is a tremendous overall option with ample features at a reasonable price. It has a full suite of protection features, with live experts available to help 24/7. It has inexpensive Childwatch identity theft monitoring, so you can ensure that no one takes advantage of your child’s future.
Identity theft and credit card fraud are growing threats, even as computer security improves. Credit monitoring services are essential to protecting yourself and your family from massive credit card bills or other debts being incurred in your name. Get credit monitoring as soon as possible so you can keep your finances and reputation intact.
About the Author
Calvin Fellows is a former military security agent and police detective who headed security administration. Calvin is experienced and knowledgeable in all avenues of personal and corporate security, and is dedicated to educating people on how to preempt any physical or cyber security attacks before they happen.