Each person is entitled to a free credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus (go to www.annualcreditreport.com). There may also be situations that also make you eligible for free credit reports, such as getting turned down for credit, suspecting errors due to fraud and being unemployed. So why does one need a credit monitoring service?
Getting your credit report once a year may not be enough. Even if you're organized enough to order a report every four months (example - order from Experian in January, Equifax in May, and TransUnion in September), that may not be frequent enough to observe the changes and to react in a timely manner. Most people don't request their annual credit reports and remain unaware of its contents.
It is important to understand what a credit monitoring service does not do. Most services do not monitor changes to your credit score. You may have to purchase a separate product to learn what your score is. Most services do not prevent ID theft. There are other services that proport to do this by monitoring public records and internet activity. They will also put a freeze on pre-approved credit card offers, but that is a service you can perform for yourself (see https://www.optoutprescreen.com).
A credit monitoring service can be a tool to obtain copies of credit reports more often than once a year, learn your credit score, be notified promptly of changes to your credit report, and be notified when someone makes an inquiry from one of the credit bureaus. Below is a comparison of subscription services so you can decide if it's worth it for your situation.
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