Over the past several years, consumers have seen a rapid increase in identity theft. It can be argued that it is the fastest growing crime in America with almost 7% of adults experiencing some form of identity theft this year. Identity theft happens when someone uses another person’s information, such as their name, social security number, or credit card number, without their permission.
When identity theft first became a growing problem, many credit reporting agencies began to offer a service to consumers allowing them to monitor their credit reports for fraud detection for an annual or monthly fee. By signing up for any of these programs, you can receive text alerts about questionable activity on your credit report. These programs monitor changes to your credit file that may help you detect fraud.
However, as a consumer, you can also go to any of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union and monitor your report on your own at no charge. All three bureaus offer a free fraud alert to be placed on your account at your request and you only have to notify one agency and it will put the other agencies on notice.
So is using a monitoring service better? Below is a list of some of what these services offer you for a fee vs. what you can do on your own:
- First, credit protection services offer dark web monitoring. This is where thieves sell your information on unknown websites. Paid credit monitoring will notify you if your information is found on any of these sites. This service is the best reason to use these companies. There is no free alternative that offers this type of protection other than surfing the web yourself.
- Next, credit monitoring services provide you with reduced exposure of your personal identity information. They make sure your information does not get sold to companies. Similarly, for no charge you can opt out of pre-approved credit card offers to ensure your information does not get sold.
- Third, credit monitoring services offer a free copy of your credit report and a view of your credit score. Alternatively, once a year you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the big three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Lastly, credit monitoring services notify you of any change of address information. Along the same lines, if there was any new address used in connection with your name or any personally identifying information, the address would be listed on your credit report.
Essentially, almost everything credit monitoring services offer for a fee you can do on your own for free. If you believe your rights have been violated and you need the advice or assistance of counsel, contact SmithMarco, P.C. for a completely free case review.