Credit monitoring services have become increasingly popular, with numerous websites offering to help protect your credit. However, before rushing into using such services, it’s crucial to evaluate whether they are truly necessary and understand what they can offer to assist you. By weighing the benefits and limitations of credit monitoring services, you can make an informed decision about whether they are a valuable tool for your financial well-being.
What Do Credit Monitoring Services Actually Do?
It’s important to clarify the actual scope of credit monitoring services, as there is often a misconception about their capabilities. While many people assume these services will handle all aspects of credit management, the reality is that they primarily focus on monitoring your credit for new applications. However, they do not have the power to stop these applications. Although credit monitoring companies may promise protection against identity theft, the notifications they send when new credit is detected do not halt the process.
In the event of fraudulent credit applications in your name, credit monitoring services will alert you. However, it is then your responsibility to contact the company granting the credit and inform them of the fraudulent activity. Some credit monitoring companies may offer assistance in contacting the relevant entities, but this is not a universal feature among all providers.
Evaluating the Need for Monitoring Services
Once you understand the limitations of credit monitoring services, it’s essential to assess whether they are the right solution for you. Fraud analyst Avivah Litan from Gartner Inc has compiled a list of reasons why the average consumer may not actually require these services.
One reason is that credit monitoring services do not monitor wireless or cable services taken out in your name. They also do not track your bank account transactions, credit card accounts, or loyalty accounts, which can also be targeted by identity thieves.
Furthermore, credit monitoring services will not notify you if your identity has been misused for non-financial purposes, such as the creation of fraudulent driving licenses or passports. Since these areas are among the top concerns for consumers, it is counterintuitive to rely on a service that does not cover them adequately.
According to the list compiled by Avivah Litan, credit monitoring services offer limited assistance to the average consumer. However, if you have the opportunity to access a free credit monitoring service, it may be worth considering. Nevertheless, it is crucial to evaluate the provider’s capabilities and assess what aspects of credit monitoring they can genuinely manage.
While credit monitoring services have gained popularity, it is important to carefully assess their necessity and limitations. These services primarily focus on monitoring credit applications but do not possess the authority to stop fraudulent activities. Understanding what credit monitoring services can and cannot do is essential to making an informed decision about whether they align with your specific needs. While credit monitoring services offer some benefits, it is equally important to be aware of their limitations and explore alternative methods to safeguard your financial information and protect against identity theft.