Why Critics Are Wrong About Credit Monitoring Services

Most financial experts agree that routinely checking your credit reports is a smart idea. If you ask those same experts about credit monitoring services, however, you'll likely get a lot of eye-rolling and negative comments.

Critics have three primary complaints about credit monitoring. They say it's unnecessary, costly, and ineffective at preventing identity theft. Let's evaluate each of these claims and see why, in this case, the experts have got it all wrong.

Credit monitoring is a fee-based service offered to consumers by credit reporting agencies (such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), credit scoring firms and other companies. When you sign up for a credit monitoring service, one or all of your credit reports are constantly tracked and you are alerted to a variety of changes in your credit file, such as a credit card balance increase, an "inquiry" when you apply for new credit, or negative information like a late payment reported by one of your creditors.

But what about those who contend that credit monitoring is "unnecessary" because you can get three free credit reports via www.annualcreditreport.com, and you can stagger those reports over time throughout the course of a year? Unfortunately, this is terribly misguided advice.