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With fraud and identity theft recently on the rise, consumers are learning that they need to be more conscientious about their credit reports in order to protect their credit score. Credit monitoring is the most efficient and convenient way of staying on top of your credit history. Credit monitoring is also helpful on a more practical level, helping you build up your credit score. What is credit monitoring, how does it work, and where can you find the best credit monitoring services that check your credit score and make sure nobody is tampering with your identity? Let's take a closer look.

What is Credit Monitoring to Protect Your Credit Score?

Loosely translated, credit monitoring is any action taken to keep tabs on the factors that affect your credit score. Credit monitoring services tackle specific areas that are generally at risk of being targeted, and we’ll cover more of that in a minute.

In general, credit monitoring keeps an eye on your credit history, watching for any unusual, uncharacteristic, or suspicious behavior that can affect your credit reports. Credit monitoring will usually include regular access to your credit score and credit report from any of the 3 major credit bureaus in the country. This is simple, but key to improving your credit score. Make sure that you regularly check your credit score.

In addition to keeping your identity safe by staying aware of changes that might have been made to your credit report without you consenting to it (such as a credit card taken out under your name or a large withdrawal made from your bank account), credit monitoring is also helpful if you are trying to build or repair your credit score.

A credit report is made up of several factors, including your payment history, loans you’ve taken out, and your employment records. If you have a poor credit score, using credit monitoring can help you highlight which areas need improvement in order to boost your score. It’s actually a valuable educational tool that teaches many consumers a lot about how credit works.

You might want to improve your credit score if you tried applying for a loan but got rejected, want to upgrade your credit card status but are being held back by a poor credit score, or if you are planning to apply for a loan in the near future and want to ensure that you receive the best interest rate possible.

How Does Credit Monitoring Work?

Credit monitoring services watch for changes and/or actions made in your name, and then they notify you of these changes. They go beyond what the best credit score app or credit check companies might give you. For example, if a loan or credit card is applied for under your name or using your Social Security number, the credit monitoring service will raise a red flag. This red flag will trigger an automatic notification to be sent directly to you, so you can confirm whether or not you took this action. If you didn’t take the action (i.e., you didn’t apply for a loan or credit card recently), the credit monitoring service will help you protect yourself from potential harm and fraud.

As mentioned, credit monitoring is also helpful for keeping track of your credit. With a careful eye on your credit report, you can more easily make the improvements needed to raise your credit score. Here’s how that works:

  • You receive your credit report. This can be monthly, bi-annually, or quarterly, depending on the service.

  • Most credit monitoring services will give you a breakdown of your credit report, highlighting the areas that need improvement.

  • Armed with all of this information, you can take action to repair your damaged credit score.

  • Also, if there is any misinformation on your report, you can quickly amend this, instantly improving your credit score.

Can Monitoring Your Credit Score Protect You?

Monitoring your credit score can help you in several ways, as we've highlighted above. Additionally, keeping a close eye on your credit report can help protect you from dangerous identity theft. Some ways credit monitoring services help protect you include:

  • 3-bureau credit reports along with changes alerts

  • Monthly credit score

  • High-risk transaction alerts

  • Dark web monitoring

Each of these features helps keep your identity more secure. Credit monitoring services all offer additional features to help safeguard your identity and protect you against identity theft. For example:

  • Anti-phishing mobile apps

  • Safe browsing extensions

  • Social insight reports

  • Risk management score

  • Stolen funds reimbursement insurance

It can also protect you against all sorts of ID theft, including child ID theft, synthetic ID theft (this is when someone combines some of your real identity information with fabricated information to create a new identity), new account fraud (opening new accounts in your name), credit card fraud (using a stolen credit card to make purchases), account takeover fraud (taking over your account and making changes so that you can’t get in or so that they can maintain control over the account), or tax fraud (using your Social Security number to gain control of your tax refund).

Best Credit Score Apps Recommended for You:

Identity Guard

  • AI-based credit monitoring software
  • Family plans for whole-family monitoring for less
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Risk management reporting
  • Multiple credit monitoring options

Read the full Identity Guard review to learn more

LifeLock

  • Reimbursement up to $1 million 
  • Antivirus and protection from cyber threats
  • 60-day money-back guarantee  
  • 4.5 stars from 9,000+ reviews
  • Dedicated restoration specialists

Read the full LifeLock review to learn more

Experian

  • One of the three main credit bureaus
  • Lock your account instantly
  • A leading name in credit security industry
  • Family plans available
  • Very affordable/one of the most cost-effective options on the market

Read the full Experian Review to learn more

Editorial Reviews

Read all reviews
Editorially researched
Essential information
Highlights, pros & cons