With the proliferation of credit monitoring services this year, perhaps you’ve been thinking about signing up.Are the sites worth your money or are you better off just checking the statement yourself?
Save the money, advises Gerri Detweiler, a personal finance expert with Credit.com:
“Paying for a service like that is sort of paying for a service you don’t need,” she says. “The number one thing is just to check your statements yourself, which is the biggest hurdle for most people. They get busy and set their card on auto pay, and then they don’t look at their statement.”
But getting in the habit of routinely checking your statement can get you attuned to your day-to-day spending habits, which will help you determine whether that $10 charge you can’t remember was last week’s lunch or a scammer who’s been quietly ripping you off for months.
You can easily set up online card monitoring through your bank, credit union, or account aggregation service like Mint.com. Card issuers themselves even offer alerts, making it easy to spot unusual activity that might otherwise slip under the radar. When setting the text or phone call notifications for suspicious spending, think about your own habits and what would seem off—$500 at Barneys versus a $13 food run.
For those who share accounts like couples or parents with children in college, speak up when something looks amiss so you can solve the problem together.
If you’ve been the victim of identity and/or credit theft repeatedly in the past, a credit monitoring service like BillGuard might be worth it for piece of mind.
Adam Levin, cofounder of Credit.com and chairman of Identity Theft 911, suggests the following tips to ensure you find a company that’s legit:
- Search online for complaints to see whether they’ve had any problems.
- Check the company’s credentials in the “About Me” section. Does the business sound legit or like a fly-by-night enterprise?