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Credit Monitoring

Watch this video or read the article below!

Says free, but isn't. It's actually a monitoring service in disguise.
Says free, but isn't. It's actually a monitoring service in disguise.

CRCs have found a gem in "credit monitoring". First, they collect your credit information and happily sell it to anyone and everyone. Then, when the natural consequence of their actions (ID theft) are running rampant and people start to get scared and frustrated, what do they do? Start being more responsible with your information, perhaps? Hardly.

Enter "credit monitoring" (angelic chorus plays). The nice, consumer friendly CRCs are helping to solve the problem! See? We'll monitor your file and let you know as soon as something looks suspicious. All for a low (or not so low) fee…

Well… Isn't that nice? There's just a few problems with this scenario:

  1. It doesn't stop ID theft. It doesn't even slow it down. All a monitoring alert does is tell you that something suspicious is happening to your credit report.

  2. There's a free alternative available as long as you're willing to order your credit reports a few times a year. The law requires CRCs to provide your credit report for free at least once a year. If you get your report from one of the three companies and 4 months later, get it from the next one and then 4 months later from the last, you can still get a fairly constant view of your credit situation.

    Granted this doesn't give you the same access to your credit reports that monitoring would, but it's far cheaper.

    Remember that there is only ONE legitimate site to get your free reports

  3. Monitoring isn't necessary once you freeze your credit reports

    It's not necessary once you freeze your credit reports. Monitoring is designed to alert you when your credit report changes or is accessed. Credit freezes block nearly any type of credit inquiry but also sends an alert that the access was attempted. So not only do you still know what's going on, you don't have to pay after freezing AND it actually blocks the access instead of just letting you know after it's too late.

Keep paying for credit monitoring if you feel it provides you a good value, but considering how cheap it is for the CRCs to send an e-mail alert whenever a database changes, I expect that whichever employee first pitched this low-cost, high-profit idea to management probably has a corner office and a ferrari now.

By the way, if you think I'm being a little harsh, perhaps you've heard of where no free credit reports can be found. They make so much money on monitoring that they can afford to spend over $72 Million a year on their clever ads and were able to easily pay for the defense and resulting fines that resulted from their mulitple lawsuits and inquiries for deceptive practices.

On a lighter note, the Federal Trade Commission was so fed up with, they made these awesome spoof videos:

Guide Navigation
prev: Data Defense|INDEX|next: Id Theft Insurance

Too Late!

If you've already become a victim, here is a list of things you should do.

Solving ID Theft

Lock your credit reports with a Credit Freeze to prevent credit-based ID theft (90% of ID theft risk).
Learn to protect your information to prevent not only ID theft, but many other kinds of problems (the rest of ID theft risk).

Save Time and Money

cancel Credit Monitoring services.
Cancel Id Theft Insurance

Who is Responsible?

Sometimes you just have to wonder why it's so easy to steal identities in the first place.

2 Comments to “Credit Monitoring”

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Hello Jeremy,
I was speaking with someone online the other day. I am part of a dating site and this person was asking information as naturally as anyone would. But it wasn’t until after the conversation ended that I realized this was not any normal convo. By the end they had my name, birthday, email and phone number. Should I be concerned? Should I do anything to block a potential attempt at credit card fraud or anything else? thanks for your help!

– David

    It’s been a busy year with a lot of spam coming to my inbox so sorry for the late delay. That level of information is pretty easy to get on average and isn’t likely to be too bad, but you should freeze your credit reports at the least not because of this conversation, but just because it’s a good idea in general. And yes, the less you can give out information in general, the better.

How to Steal Identities - Why It's So Easy
Credit Freeze
Data Defense
Credit Monitoring
Id Theft Insurance
The Identity Theft Victim's Mini-Guide to Recovery
The Geek Privacy Principle
Nothing to Hide
Data Abuse
RFID - Radio Frequency IDentification
Privacy Alias/Persona
Data Defense
Online Addiction
The Consequences of Posting Online
Photo Safety
Tricks and Scams
Account Hijacking
Trusting Companies
Bad Passwords
Password Tips and Tricks
Password Protection
Password Mugging
Computer Security
E-mail Safety
Kids and Computers
Shopping Online
All About Warranties

Data Abuse

Learn how your data is taken from you and used against you by large companies for their own benefit.

[Click for full description]

Credit Report Companies

Credit reporting company such as Transunion, Equifax, or Experian. Sometimes referred to as a credit bureau or a credit reporting agency, but referred to as companies on this site to stress the fact that these are not agencies or bureaus (which sound like government organizations) and are actually just data brokers that specialize in credit information.

The Identity Theft Victim's Mini-Guide to Recovery

If you've already experienced ID theft, here are some tips of what to do next.

[Click for full description]

How to Stop Credit-Based ID Theft with a Credit Freeze

A credit freeze locks your credit report preventing any thieves from being able to open new accounts in your name. Your credit cards and current accounts work like they always have.

[Click for full description]

Data Defense

One of the most important, but least understood, threats against us today is the creeping data-abuse by companies seeking to compile complete profiles on every American in order to enable "targeted marketing".

Until laws are in place to control their use of your data, learn the tips and tricks to make it harder for them while improving your identity-theft defense at the same time.

[Click for full description]

Credit Monitoring

What is credit monitoring, why it doesn't live up to its promises, and what you can do instead.

[Click for full description]

Id Theft Insurance

Id theft insurance is another of the many types of "services" that have been created in response to the id-theft problem. But rather than help you solve identity theft, it generally helps the insurance company transfer money from you to them.

[Click for full description]