How Credit Monitoring Really Works - dummies

By Steve Bucci

Hiring a company to monitor your credit means that you give the company access to your credit reports. You may wonder just how this monitoring takes place. Each service provider has a series of programs that it runs against databases to which it has access (some have their own credit database but also buy access to others), looking for changes, updates, or patterns that indicate something may be amiss.

Some services monitor only one credit bureau, others monitor all three, and still others monitor some of the many national, specialty, consumer-reporting bureaus for activity or changes to your reports such as

  • The opening of new accounts

  • Larger-than-normal charges

  • Unusual account activity, such as a change in the frequency, location, or type of charges appearing on your credit reports

  • A surge in balances

  • Other changes to your accounts, such as payments, late payment notices, credit inquiries, public records, employment, addresses, and fraud alerts

Some monitoring services produce detailed reports about your credit score and even suggest ways to make it more attractive to lenders and improve your creditworthiness. Most also give you free credit reports and scores (they may be proprietary scores or a FICO or VantageScore). Lastly, monitoring services check your data with differing frequency. Some check daily, others weekly, and others quarterly, depending on their service level.