Credit monitoring services

Credit monitoring services like Mint Credit Monitor can be useful, especially when they provide notifications when certain activities take place. But since credit monitoring services charge, you need to look carefully before you select one. Some things to keep in mind when choosing a credit monitoring service:

  1. Do they notify you when someone requests credit information about you?
  2. Do they notify you when a new account is opened? Obviously you’ll know when you open an account so if one shows up that you didn’t open, it’s good to know.
  3. Do they notify you when there are changes in your credit report including changes in address, changes in employment, etc.? You just don’t want to know about changes to your credit rating, you want to know if there are any changes at all to your report.
  4. Do you know what they are monitoring? It is best to ensure that the service is monitoring all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and to find out how often they monitor. You want the service to monitor frequently so you have the opportunity to spot any issues early.
  5. Remember, even if you have a credit monitoring service, this won’t prevent identity theft. Checking your credit may help you spot identity theft early, but the best defense against identity theft is to be vigilant with information that you share.

Freeze your credit report

The best way to prevent problems with your identity is to take precautions.

Freeze your credit reports (which means no one can get access to it until you "thaw" it) to make it difficult for a criminal to obtain credit using your good name. By providing a written and documented request to the credit reporting agencies, they can provide you with a personal identification number or password to help you manage access to your credit. (You need to make a request to each agency: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).