Contrary to the advice doled out from a lot of personal finance writers, I DO monitor my credit. I have a lot of reasons why, not the least of which is that I want to know as early as possible if my identity is stolen … again. I guess the price of freedom (and peace of mind) is eternal vigilance.
I prefer Equifax ID Patrol to monitor my credit and yes, I pay for it myself! I’ve been a customer for 7 years now. They even let me know GOOD NEWS about my credit file such as a balance decrease. The cost is minimal compared to the aggravation and expense of identity theft and by using Equifax and I get some advantages that a company like LifeLock doesn’t provide such as:
- Alerts within 24 hours of key changes to 3 nationwide credit reports .. even if that change is a decrease (see below).
- Unlimited access to my Equifax Credit Report. I can check my credit report for free!
- Access to the Automatic Fraud Alerts feature, free of charge.
- Up to $1,000,000 Identity Theft Insurance with no deductible (certain limitations and exclusions apply).
When you boil it all down, you can set up your own “LifeLock” by simply putting a fraud alert on your credit file. One phone call to any of the three credit bureaus is all it takes.
What I really like about using Equifax ID Patrol is that I can set personal alerts for any type of change I desire – a balance drop or increase, a new account set up, inquiries, or any other change to my credit report. The best part is that I get this information within 24 hours. I find it comforting that I’m not the only one looking out for the integrity of my credit file.
Yes, you can still a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com, but it’s limited to one report from each of the credit bureaus per year. A lot of damage can be done in a year. Trust me, a lot of damage can be done in a few days.
I suppose it’s impossible to be 100% safe from identity theft, but with my own fraud alert and Equifax ID Patrol, I personally feel that my identity, my credit report score, and my credit reputation are much more safe than without them.