Protect your identity, reputation, and money from fraud by using a credit alert service. The best services monitor your credit report and give you alerts when anything unusual occurs. They will also provide protection if your identity does get stolen. Some will even provide you with regular access to your credit report, as well as your credit score.
The best credit alert services will alert you to when a new credit account, such as a new credit card or loan, is opened in your name. Others, such as Equifax, will send you alerts when the balance on your credit cards or other accounts goes above or below a certain amount. This service allows you to monitor theft on accounts you already have opened.
The best alert services will monitor all three of the credit bureaus and let you know of any changes to any of the reports. Some will allow you to review your score and report every month while others limit it to once a year or only let you look at the report from a particular bureau. One service, Identity Lookout, will also monitor any minor children and keep an eye on your debit and ATM cards.
Many credit alert services provide some sort of insurance in case someone does steal your identity. Equifax offers up to $1,000,000 in protection. Other services offer between $10,000 and $50,000.
A good credit alert service should let you know of any changes to your accounts or credit reports within a day of the change happening. The alerts may be sent over email, though some services give you the option of receiving the alerts on your cell phone.
The cost of an alert service varies greatly. A simple service that does not give you access to your report or scores can cost as little as $5 a month. Other services cost around $15 per month, but do provide access to your score and reports.