I’ve had a number of clients ask about identity theft and credit monitoring. I think it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your credit reports and score, but I don’t think that most of us have to pay for an expensive monitoring service.
Unless you have a specific reason to believe that you are at more risk than the average person, I think that quarterly monitoring of your credit reports is sufficient. It’s also a good idea to check your FICO credit score once a year. Here’s how you can accomplish all of this for $16 per year by putting quarterly reminders on your calendar.
- January: Go to www.myfico.com and get your FICO score and an Equifax credit report through the company’s FICO Standard product ($16).
- April: Order a free TransUnion credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- July: Order a free Equifax credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- October: Order a free Experian credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
This process will allow you to check your FICO credit score once per year and to monitor your credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Each agency can receive and record different information about you, so it’s a good idea to review each report for anything fishy.
If this sounds too labor intensive for you, you can automate the process by anteing up $50 per year for myfico.com’s .
You want to make sure that you are checking your FICO credit score from the Fair Isaac Corporation. You can find many other credit score rating products and get many of them for free. However, the vast majority of lenders review your FICO score when they consider lending you money, so it’s the one you’ll want to know.
If you’d like to learn more about how credit ratings work and how to maintain a good score, I recommend that you read Youre Nothing But a Number by John R. Ulzheimer.
Please keep in mind that this blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice specific to your situation. You should get advice from a legal, accounting, or investment professional before deciding what course of action is appropriate for you.