Back in 2004 I signed up with Transunion’s credit monitoring service. For $9.95 per month I could check all three credit reports as often as I wanted, receive all three scores and get email alerts any time there was a change to any of the reports.
It came in very handy. It was the first time I had really looked at my credit reports and I got a couple of bogus entries taken off (which was a lot of work BTW). I checked my reports on a very regular basis over the next few years. Usually at least once a week, sometimes on a daily basis when I was actively trying to fix something.
A few years ago they changed their policy so that you could only refresh your reports once a month. I was a bit irked at first but then realized that I really didn’t need to check them quite as regularly as I was. All the garbage had been taken care of and I was really only looking that them for fun a that point. I was obsessing over them more then anything. So it really wasn’t a big deal.
Now, about 2 months ago they made a new change. I went to get my monthly copy of my three reports and my three scores and noticed that the button to refresh them was gone and was replaced with a link to buy them for $9.95. After some poking around I found that I could refresh my TransUnion report and score as often as I want to, but if I want the other two it’s going to cost $9.95. Effectively doubling the cost to get all three each month.
For me, that was the last straw, I called up, ready to cancel, but they were closed and I cooled off by morning.
Today, I called again and explained to them that I wanted to cancel because they keep taking things away (as I said above). She told me that since I still get alerts from all three reports, I’ll still know if something changed and only then would I need to spend the extra $10 to see what the actual change was. In my head I admitted she was right, but out loud I still told her I wanted to cancel because I was annoyed that they keep taking things away from me.
She offered me a free month of service and I figured I might as well take them up on that. I accepted the offer for the free month and made a note to cancel a week before it’s up.
Now I just need to figure out what I should do. For $9.95 I can get all the TransUnion reports and scores I want as well as alerts from all three reports (and the ability to lock/unlock my TransUnion report right from the website if I’d ever want to). I’m locked in at $9.95 and looking at their website, the service is $14.95 for new customers.
My credit is great, my scores are high (870-890), I haven’t had any problems and there’s no reason why getting three free reports a year should be a problem. Also, I should probably mention that saving $9.95 a month would be nice, but spending it really isn’t a big deal and it really is nice to know, within 24 hours, if there’s a change to one of my reports.
Also something to note, I’ve read reports on the internet that over the past few years TransUnion has been slowing canceling customers still on the $9.95 plan on their own.
I use CreditKarma.com. It’s free, and gets its scoring from TransUnion. By using this website, I can still get all three full credit reports, I just get one from each agency every 4 months. It’s plenty for monitoring. Creditors only report monthly, anyway, and not on the same days, so you really don’t need to check your score more than every 2 months or so. It’s slow to change.
If someone steals your identity, you’re going to know about it way before it starts showing up on your credit reports.
Creditors report monthly, but new accounts and inquires show up almost instantly. Back when I took out a loan for my motorcycle, by the time I got home I had an email from Transunion reporting a change to my account. When I logged on it told me there was an inquiry from the bank that processed the loan paperwork. Now that I have a smart phone that gets email, sometimes I’ll get the email while I’m still sitting there with the loan officer. So yeah, making sure Amex or Chase is properly reporting everything only needs to be done once a month or so and really is useless to do more often then that. But OTOH, it is nice to know that if someone attempts to open an account in my name I’ll know about it almost instantly. Considering that bad information can take 6 months to a year to clean up, it would be nice to know as soon as the inquiry happens but before the account is on the report.
I’m a Clark Howard fan and he seems to think its a waste of money.
If you’re trying to prevent fraud, even with credit monitoring, you find out after the fact. The only way to prevent it from happening in the first place is a credit freeze, which is kind of a hassle.
If you have any suspicions about potential fraud, or if you are the paranoid type, I would go with the credit freeze. If not, I think checking one credit report every 4 months from annualcreditreport is sufficient.
Here’s one of many Clark Howard articles on the subject.
Well, you can get those credit reports every 4 months (one from a different agency each time, that is) even without Creditkarma (nothing against that site, just noting that that particular feature isn’t something unique to them, they’re just providing a portal to the legally-mandated reports).
If someone steals your identity, you might NOT know about it for a few months - what if they’ve filed using a false address / phone? Paid the minimum while they ran up a bill then ditched the account?
That said - we don’t have a monitoring service and it sounds like TransUnion is rapidly chipping away at the services you get, thereby making it a less and less valuable product.
It sounds like a game you enjoy, so why not? Don’t understand it myself but that’s hardly relevant, and a tenner a month won’t kill you.
Pretty sure you could find an alternative activity to replace this particular foible for less cost. Start trading on ebay and carefully monitor your feedback rating? Post on internet forums that have post-rating systems and try to maintain a high score. Stuff like that.
I’ll second Credit Karma. Most people are wary of it, as I was initially, since it offers you a free credit score and there are a million scams claiming to offer the same (I believe CK does this by estimating your score rather than giving the “true” score, but the estimate is very accurate). But it’s well-reviewed on a number of financial websites and completely legitimate.