A Beginner’s Guide to Free Credit Monitoring

Credit monitoring services do more than protect you against signs of fraud or changes in your credit report. The best credit monitoring services can also help you create a plan of action to improve your credit score and move closer to your goals.

Are you thinking about enrolling in a credit monitoring service? We’re going to take a closer look at credit monitoring services and what makes a good free service. We’ll go over what exactly a credit monitoring service does and how you can use it.

Finally, we’ll show you how you can get started with credit monitoring through MoneyLion. 

What is a Credit Monitoring Service?

In 2016, 10% of people age 16 and older were victims of identity theft. Of that 10%, 85% experienced a thief or scammer who attempted to abuse their credit by opening an unauthorized credit card under their name or made an unauthorized purchase using their account or card. Identity thieves can get their hands on your information through data breaches and corporate hacks. 

For example, major credit reporting bureau Experian suffered a data breach in 2015 that left 15 million people’s personal identifying information exposed.

A credit monitoring service may be able to give you peace of mind if you’re concerned about hacks and identity theft. Credit monitoring services are companies that track your credit information and alert you if something changes. 

They do this by keeping tabs on one or more of your credit reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Your credit monitoring service will alert you when a new item gets added to your credit report so you can catch identity theft and correct it quickly.

Keep in mind that credit monitoring services can only alert you to changes and help you learn how to freeze your credit — they cannot prevent crimes. You’ll need to work with your bank, credit card provider and the appropriate legal authorities to get justice and restore your credit if you’re a victim of identity theft.  

What Does the Best Credit Monitoring Service Do?

Like any other financial product, not all credit monitoring services are equally reliable. Here are some of the features that a great credit monitoring service should offer. 

Alert you to credit changes

First and foremost, a credit monitoring service should alert you to changes in your credit report, which is a detailed breakdown of your credit history. The best credit monitoring services will alert you when any of the following appear on your credit report:

  • A company or an individual accesses your credit report.
  • Someone opens a new loan or credit card in your name.
  • A creditor or loan provider submits an item saying that you’re behind on payments.
  • A public records company submits an item saying that you’ve declared bankruptcy.
  • There’s a legal judgment made against you that appears on your credit report.
  • Your personal information (like your name, address or phone number) changes.
  • Your line of credit changes.

Look for a credit monitoring service that provides you with this information for all three of your credit reports. Not every creditor submits information to every credit reporting bureau, which can allow fraudulent items to slip through.

The best way to get total protection is to choose a credit monitoring service that covers all of them.

Access to your full credit report

Knowing that there’s a fraudulent item on your credit report isn’t always enough. When you learn about a change to your report, the first thing you’ll want to do is take a look at your credit report. The best credit monitoring services offer you access to your credit report. 

If you’re unsure whether an item is fraudulent, you can use your credit report to determine whether you need to freeze your credit. The best credit monitoring services show you how to gain access to your credit reports. 

Access to your credit score

If you’re like most people, you probably care much more about your credit score than the contents of your credit report. Your credit score is a three-digit number that distills the information from your credit report, kind of like a grade on a report card. 

When you use credit in a positive way (like making payments on your loans or using credit cards responsibly), your score goes up. When you use credit negatively (like maxing out your credit cards or missing a payment), your score goes down. 

One of the best ways you can monitor your credit is by working with a credit monitoring service that gives you access to your credit score. 

Easy and affordable access

Often, credit monitoring services charge a monthly fee. If you’re already struggling to pay off credit card bills, it might not be the best idea to pay for a credit monitoring service. Look for a credit monitoring service that focuses on affordable access.

There are a number of credit monitoring services you can use if you’re tight on cash, like MoneyLion’s comprehensive credit monitoring tools.

Also, look for a credit monitoring service that’s easy to use. Even the best service will be useless to you if you can’t figure out how to sign up for alerts or check your score. Focus on finding a credit monitoring company that gives you access with an easy-to-use app. 

How Do I Check My Credit Score?

Unfortunately, not every credit monitoring service offers you access to your credit score. Many monitoring services simply focus on watching your credit and alerting you to any changes.

These changes may or may not influence your credit score, so it’s a good idea to have a credit score inquiry service like MoneyLion’s if you’re working to improve your score.

Be aware that credit score providers aren’t always free. They may initially give you a free score — but also make you sign up for an expensive service. They may also only give you one free score and then you’d have to pay the next time you log in.

Make sure you read the terms and conditions to confirm that it’s actually free before you sign up for a free credit score service. 

Get Credit Monitoring with MoneyLion

MoneyLion’s credit monitoring service offers 24/7 access to your credit score and works around the clock to help keep your information safe and secure. Most importantly, MoneyLion’s credit monitoring service doesn’t damage your credit. You can also view your complete credit report through your MoneyLion account.

Working your way toward a better credit score? Create a game plan with MoneyLion’s credit tips and Credit Builder Plus program and loan.

There’s no cost to check your credit score or sign up for credit monitoring through MoneyLion through the convenient MoneyLion app.  

Is Free Credit Monitoring For You?

Do you think that credit monitoring might be right for you? Here are some reasons why you might want to seriously consider it.

You’ve Already Been a Victim of Identity Theft

Your personal information is likely already in circulation among thieves and scammers if you’ve already been a victim of identity theft. After you’ve had one instance of identity theft, your personal information could suffer another breach.

Credit monitoring services can be an invaluable asset if you’ve had a credit scare in the past.

Remember that credit monitoring services can’t stop identity theft from occurring. However, they can alert you to breaches early on. This allows you to dispute fraudulent items and freeze your credit so your credit profile stays intact.

You Don’t Want to Freeze Your Credit

It’s a good idea to have some kind of credit monitoring service if you don’t want to freeze your credit. Freezing your credit prevents anyone from using or accessing your credit. 

Though credit freezes are now free, there are a number of reasons why you might not want to freeze yours. If you’re applying for a major loan soon (like a mortgage or a student loan), freezing your credit can make the loan application take longer than necessary. You might also get a rejection for accounts you’re actually qualified for if you don’t remember to unfreeze your accounts.

You’re Working on Building Your Credit

If you already have a lower score, identity theft can really set you back and negatively impact your score. Signing up for a credit monitoring service can help you keep your plans for a higher credit score on track.

Keeping An Eye on Your Credit

In a world of smarter identity thieves, credit monitoring services can be an asset. However, choosing the right credit monitoring service is just as important as your decision to enroll.

Remember that when you authorize a credit monitoring service to work on your behalf, you’re giving the service a lot of your personal information. Thoroughly research any company you’re considering working with before you sign up.

Are you ready to get on the path to a more secure credit profile? There’s never been a better time to get started with MoneyLion’s credit monitoring services.

Check your credit score and see your score history with a few taps on your phone. Download the MoneyLion app from the Google Play or Apple App store today to learn more and get started.