We protect our valuables in different ways: a case for the cell phone, a lock on the front door, insurance for the car. Another valuable that needs protecting is our credit report. Everybody knows the importance of a good credit score. Credit repair is a big help when you need it, but there are other steps you can take to make sure that your credit is safe: credit monitoring and a credit freeze. Both have advantages that might make one or the other right for you.
Monitoring Your Credit Report
Once you sign up with a credit monitoring service, that’s all you really have to do—sign up. It’s passive protection. You’ll want a service that monitors all three major credit bureaus. That generally means paying for the service, because the free credit reports you see advertised usually cover only a report from one of the bureaus. A monitoring service will tell you if fraud is committed in your name, and whether anybody’s looked into your credit record. Apart from regularly reading the reports, you don’t have to do much else.
Freezing Your Credit Report
If you want to lock down your credit and take a more active role in monitoring it, consider a credit freeze. This process, also known as a security freeze, shields your credit score and credit report from public view. The only people who can see it are your existing creditors. Everybody else must get your permission to see it. Nobody new can inquire about your credit or try to open an account in your name until you provide permission.
A freeze requires you to be on your toes; however, you’ll have to “thaw” your report if and when lenders, potential employers, or insurance companies need to see it. Unlike paid credit monitoring, there’s no ongoing fee for the service, although you may have to pay for the initial freeze, plus any “thawing” and “refreezing” you do. (If you’ve been a fraud victim, the initial freeze is free by law in most states.)
How engaged with your credit report do you want to be? That’s the question to answer when deciding between monitoring and freezing. Your experience with credit in the past and your concerns about credit in the future will help guide you. If you’ve been a victim of fraud or have had some bad luck with credit, you might also want to consider a credit repair service such as Ovation. Our Essentials Plus program, which includes TransUnion credit monitoring, is just one of many ways we can help protect and improve your credit score. Like your car or your home, credit is valuable; nothing that you do to protect it can ever be a waste of time, effort, or money. Let us know how we can help.