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Fortunly's Guide

Best Credit Monitoring Services of 2021

By
I. Mitic

September 23,2021


Some or all of the products/services listed on this page are from our affiliate partners from which we receive commissions. This, however, does not influence the evaluations in our reviews. Learn more by reading our Advertiser Disclosure.

These reviews of the credit monitoring services could save you thousands of dollars.

A quick glance at the headlines reveals that large-scale data breaches are distressingly common. Millions of online community members, software users, and web shoppers have found their personal information compromised: stolen by hackers and sold to the highest bidder.

Hackers are after more than uninhibited photos from your spring break in Cancun. Home addresses, passwords, banking information, and credit accounts have all been exposed in breaches. Criminals have access to all the information they need to impersonate you online and access your financial accounts.

That’s identity theft. If you’re still unsure whether you’re in need of credit monitoring services, the following data might change your mind. The Insurance Information Institute says more than $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million Americans in identity theft crimes in 2016 alone. And that was before the Equifax data breach, which compromised financial data on more than 140 million people.

Most of those individuals were unaware that their data had been stolen and their financial information was being misused until weeks later. Then many of them learned the hard way. Money was transferred to anonymous accounts. Large cash advances were taken half a world away. Credit payments were made for goods and services they never received or wanted.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to subscribe to a credit monitoring service. There are free services out there, but they’re few and far in between and usually lackluster. For a few dollars a year, the service will keep an eye on your accounts, alerting you of suspicious activity. The sooner you notice unauthorized use of funds, the sooner you can notify banks and other institutions. You’ll be able to cut off the criminal’s unauthorized use of your bank accounts, credit cards, and online accounts immediately.

Consumers around the world have an urgent need to know: What is the most reliable credit monitoring provider to use? Which service is the most helpful in maintaining a healthy credit report that can mean a better life for you and your family?

The plain truth is that any monitoring service is better than none. The seven we have identified here are the best of the best. Any one of them will help you protect your balance sheet and your credit report from hackers.

Show More...

Top 7 Credit Monitoring Services

Best for: Monthly credit score tracking
IdentityForce
IdentityForce Logo
OVERVIEW

Using advanced detection technology, IdentityForce provides powerful identity theft protection that monitors court, arrest, and sex-offenders records looking for any danger over your personal data. Besides regular alerts, IdentityForce offers three-bureau credit reports and monthly summaries of your credit activities. Read Review

  • Credit improvement simulator
  • Monitoring over public records
  • Alerts when desired balance is exceeded
Learn More
On IdentityForce Website
ID Theft Insurance:
$1 million
Alerts:
Mobile text and email
BBB Rating:
A+
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $17.95/mo
Best for: Free score tracking
Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame Logo
OVERVIEW

Credit Sesame will provide you with an easy-to-use, robust, and detailed credit score analysis and notify you about monthly score changes. The company also offers excellent ID theft protection services, with a free $50,000 insurance policy for all members. Credit Sesame conducts thorough dark web, public records, payday loans, and Social Security number monitoring. Read Review

  • Vantage 3.0 system
  • Debt tracking and analysis
  • Free ID theft insurance policy
Learn More
On Credit Sesame Website
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Alerts:
Text and email
BBB Rating:
A+
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
Free/From $9.95 per month
Best for: Users looking for affordable solution
Identity Guard
Identity Guard Logo
OVERVIEW

With the introduction of Watson's artificial intelligence platform, Identity Guard monitors your personal information over thousands of databases, offering social insight reports, three-bureau credit reports, and high-risk transaction alerts. Read Review

  • IBM Watson artificial intelligence platform
  • Social insight report
  • Value plan for families
Learn More
On Identity Guard Website
ID Theft Insurance:
$1 million
Alerts:
Mobile app notifications and email
BBB Rating:
N/A
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $7.50/mo
Best for: Monthly credit score tracking
LifeLock
LifeLock Logo
OVERVIEW

LifeLock is a trusted name with a wide variety of services. LifeLock will notify you if any of your personal details are in danger and will give you monthly credit report updates, including monitoring public records and protecting your identity from the dark web marketplace. Read Review

  • 3 credit bureau reports
  • ID protection add-ons
  • Pre-approved credit offer reduction
Learn More
On LifeLock Website
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Alerts:
Text, email, phone, mobile app
BBB Rating:
A+
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $8.29/mo
Best for: Instant threat alerts
Experian
Experian Logo
OVERVIEW

As one of the reporting agencies, Experian gives you three-bureau credit monitoring with a multitude of options such as your personal myFICO report and advanced ID protection features. Read Review

  • Personal FICO scores
  • Credit freeze on request
  • Service for small business owners
Learn More
On Experian Website
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Alerts:
Email
BBB Rating:
A+
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
from $9.99/mo
Best for: Financial calculators
Privacy Guard
Privacy Guard Logo
OVERVIEW

Privacy Guard has a long history as a monitoring service provider that stands out with a wide array of useful features. Privacy Guard will monitor your credit on a daily basis, issue alerts if changes occur in your credit file, plus Vantage scores and three-bureau credit reports. Read Review

  • Vantage 3.0 system
  • Identity theft protection education
  • Financial calculators
Learn More
On Privacy Guard Website
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Alerts:
Email and text
BBB Rating:
N/A
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $9.99/mo
Best for: Personal FICO report
TransUnion
TransUnion Logo
OVERVIEW

As one of the big-three credit bureaus, TransUnion provides monthly monitoring for your credit score and credit report while monitoring public records that pertain to your personal details. Besides your FICO score and identity theft protection service, TransUnion offers many interesting and useful features such as the Security Freeze tool. Read Review

  • Personal FICO report
  • Security Freeze feature
  • ID theft assistance and insurance
Learn More
On TransUnion Website
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Alerts:
Text and email
BBB Rating:
A+
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
No
Price:
Free / $24.95 per month
Evaluation Criteria

How We Rate Credit Monitoring Services

Three major credit bureaus track the details of your spending life. Although the three services are largely consistent in the pictures they paint of American consumers, different banks and other credit providers report to different bureaus. For a complete picture, you must monitor all three. That’s our starting  point in assessing monitoring services. Put plainly, you need a credit monitoring that covers all three bureaus.

Given the staggering number of businesses that have been hacked in recent years, both credit card fraud and identity theft are real concerns that no one can afford to ignore. Even if you don’t use credit cards, bear in mind that scammers can take your information and open an account in your name - exposing you to massive losses. Without dependable monitoring in place, you may not realize that your credit has been compromised until you are denied credit and late-payment notices start coming in. By that time, it’s too late. 

Different services provide different types of monitoring and identity theft protection. That’s where we step in. We’ve been investigating to find out which credit monitoring provider is best to ensure that our reviews reflect the most current and comprehensive analyses. 

Every credit monitoring service performs three key functions:

  • Credit report monitoring: Active monitoring of credit report companies for changes that might be linked to any sort of fraud. 
  • Identity theft protection: Active monitoring of personal information, including your Social Security number, registered credit cards, and bank account numbers for detecting signs of errors and fraud.
  • Comprehensive credit monitoring: This is a combination of credit monitoring and best service when it comes to identity theft threats that is designed to keep your credit file and personal information safe. 

Now let’s list the criteria we follow when evaluating the market’s leading credit monitoring services.

Instant ID Verification Alerts

Even the top credit monitoring provider is not effective at preventing breaches. That’s out of your hands.

Instead, when deciding what credit monitoring option is best for your needs, it is important to look for the ones that give you a timely verification alert for suspicious activity on your credit accounts. The top-notch identity theft protection providers will call or text you immediately. Many have mobile apps that will notify you as soon as they identify any change or signs of potential fraud.

We award bonus points to services that automatically notify the credit bureau about the fraudulent activity happening on your account. This could save you lots of time if the questionable activity proves to be a hacker.

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus

Another important feature: All three major credit bureaus should be monitored for changes in your credit activity. The best way to check the credit score on your account is to employ a monitoring service that includes this feature. That lets you make more informed financial decisions and monitor the distribution of personal information such as your Social Security number across thousands of databases. 

This is why you should look for a service that covers all 3 bureaus. Some tools provide this feature on a weekly, monthly, or annual level. Reports usually include data from all three credit bureaus, credit inquiry alerts, and monthly credit score tracking. This will surely come in handy to keep you informed about what’s going on with your credit report.

Affordable Price

The price for the most expensive and efficient credit monitoring service is small compared to the nightmare of having your data stolen and misused. Still, no one likes to overpay, even if it is the ultimate credit reporting service.

That is exactly why we made a comprehensive list of credit and identity theft prevention features that provide the best service at the most reasonable price. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as free credit monitoring, but these services charge a small price in exchange for substantial peace of mind.

ID Theft Victim Assistance

The ideal credit monitoring service not only helps prevent and detect identity theft, but also provides aid after the fact. This feature is called ID theft victim assistance or fraud resolution assistance. It can be a big help if your identity is stolen or you discover unauthorized charges on your bank account. The efficient identity theft coverage or fraud resolution assistance means that you will receive professional help from a personal case manager who will file all necessary reports and other tedious paperwork to prevent further losses and keep your life on track. The credit monitoring services that offer this feature make sure support is available around the clock. 

Besides one-on-one assistance from an identity theft specialist, the quality credit monitoring service should establish reimbursement limits to help you deal with lost funds as well as an option for power of attorney to take your case to court. Most services offer $1 million of identity theft insurance. 

Quick Breakdown

The 7 Credit Monitoring Services for 2021:

Reviews

IdentityForce

Quick Facts
5 stars Our Rating
ID Theft Insurance:
$1 million
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $17.95/mo

A strong contender for best real time credit and identity theft monitoring service, IdentityForce succeeds by using advanced detection technology. IdentityForce has recently been acquired by EXShield, offering you the benefit of two identity theft service powerhouses with the most secure capabilities and rapid restoration service in place. This company has been in the monitoring business for 40 years, with customers writing dozens of postive IdentityForce reviews and the Better Business Bureau assigning the company an A+ rating.

Instant ID Verification Alerts 

IdentityForce monitors quite a lot beyond credit information. Your public information will be checked for changes, including address changes, court and arrest records, and payday loan apps. Also, this service will monitor sex offenders registries to see if your personal details are in any way associated. These features are provided at every tier of service IdentityForce has to offer. Besides regular alerts, IdentityForce offers another excellent feature: You can define a certain threshold amount, and the company will alert you whenever a withdrawal or balance transfer exceeds that amount. This will help you get and keep a reliable credit score. 

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus

IdentityForce is one of the most far-reaching services on the market, since it provides tracking public records databases in both of its service levels. In addition, it monitors all 3 bureaus. You will have access to quarterly credit reports and credit scores from all three credit-reporting agencies with a monthly report of your credit activities followed by timely alerts and notifications. Another useful feature IdentityForce has to offer is a credit-improvement simulator which has limited protection against phishing attacks and information-stealing malware included. 

Affordable Price

There are two tiers with IdentityForce. The $17.95/month UltraSecure plan comes with 24-hour monitoring of public records, your financial balance changes, and online criminal marketplace. If you are a Windows user, this tier will provide you with protection against phishing and data-stealing malware. 

However, UltraSecure does not include access to three major reporting agencies. If you decide to step up with the UltraSecure+Credit plan ($23.99), you will receive updated credit reports each quarter. You get your Vantage 3.0 credit score too.

IdentityForce service offers a family plan too, priced at $24.90 per month for the UltraSecure plan or $35.90 for UltraSecure+Credit. Family plans cover all adults and minors in your household, providing an additional layer of protection of your data. IdentityForce offers a 14-day free trial for all newcomers. 

ID Theft Victim Assistance

The identity theft specialists of IdentityForce are available around the clock to ensure that lost finances are easily returned and that you’re back on your feet as soon as possible. The team will keep a close eye on the information provided by credit companies and make sure that you receive instant mobile alerts if fraudulent activity is spotted. If it is, IdentityForce has tools to help you recover. You’ll save a lot of time and headaches you would otherwise spend completing paperwork and sending it off. Standard identity theft insurance is set to $1 million, and it is included in both tiers. Judging by IdentityForce reviews, customers are content with this service.

Why IdentityForce:

  • Instant threat detection and alerts
  • Dark web market constant monitoring (court and sex offenders record included)
  • Monthly credit score tracking and three-bureaus report (UltraSecure+Credit plan only)
  • Identity restoration specialists and ID theft insurance
  • Affordable price with both levels, with additional 14-day free trial
+ Show more

Credit Sesame

Quick Facts
4 stars Our Rating
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
Free/$9.99 per month

Credit Sesame has gone a long way since 2010, the year it was launched at a TechCrunchDisrupt conference in San Francisco. The company now provides top credit score monitoring services to millions of customers. Monthly credit reports, basic credit score monitoring, and ID theft protection coverage are all free for all users who sign up for them. 

Instant ID Verification Alerts

Credit Sesame is primarily a credit and loan company that also offers free credit score monitoring with a monthly VantageScore report, a free credit report card, and free identity theft protection. Credit Sesame’s report card is different from the free annual credit report you’re entitled to under the Fair Credit Reporting Act in that it contains more detailed information. 

What places Credit Sesame into the category of the reliable credit score monitoring sites is its top-notch notification system: You’ll receive alerts whenever you submit a new credit request, whenever your credit score changes, or when an account in your name is opened or closed. 

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus

The free subscription will get you a monthly VantageScore from one credit bureau, namely, TransUnion. VantageScore is an alternative to the more popular and better-known FICO score. It was developed by TransUnion in collaboration with the other two credit agencies, Equifax and Experian. Credit monitoring relies on soft inquiries which don’t negatively impact your credit score.

Any company hoping to win the title of the top credit score monitoring service, however, has to offer access to reports from all three agencies. With Credit Sesame, this service is available with all its paid plans - Advanced Credit, Pro Credit, and Platinum Protection. The updates from TransUnion are daily, while credit scores from Equifax and Exerian arrive once a month. With your credit score, you’ll also get an in-depth explanation of everything that affects it. All the major factors are laid out nicely, so there’s no space left for confusion.

Affordable Price

If you started reading this review hoping to find out who offers credit monitoring that comes for free, Credit Sesame might well be what you’ve been looking for. The free membership comes with monthly credit updates from TransUnion and insurance against identity theft that covers up to $50,000. 

In case you’d like a more comprehensive service, you can opt for one of the three paid plans. They all include credit score updates from all three bureaus and a maximum ID theft reimbursement of $1 million. The Advanced Credit plan will set you back $9.95 per month, while the Pro Credit subscription costs $15.95. 

However, the best service you can get comes with the Platinum Protection subscription. It costs $19.95, and it stands out from all other plans because it also offers ID theft monitoring, not just cost reimbursement in case your identity gets stolen. Customers who get Platinum Protection can count on Credit Sesame to monitor the use of their Social Security number, address changes, the dark web, public records, payday loans, and sex offender registries, and notify them in case their name and personal details appear in unexpected places, signaling identity theft. This plan also gives you access to 24/7 expert assistance with credit report inaccuracies and stolen or lost wallets.

ID Theft Victim Assistance

Credit Sesame also offers, as mentioned, free basic ID theft insurance to all its users. Subscribers to any of the paid credit tracker plans can count on a maximum of $1 million in case they become victims of ID theft. The only plan that offers ID theft monitoring, however, is Platinum Protection, Credit Sesame’s most expensive plan.

Why Credit Sesame:

  • Daily and monthly credit score tracking from three bureaus (paid subscriptions)
  • Free ID theft insurance reimbursement up to $50,000
  • Solid options for free users
  • Comprehensive monitoring services and reports
  • Live expert help for missing wallets and credit report inaccuracies
+ Show more

Identity Guard

Quick Facts
4.5 stars Our Rating
ID Theft Insurance:
$1 million
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $7.50/mo

Since it was founded in 1996, Identity Guard has transformed its technology to ensure the safety of over 50 million customers. The company now uses IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence platform, and its advanced features and reliability have been sufficient to see Identity Guard named the best service by many auditors. 

Identity Guard uses a corpus of knowledge based on data from many different sources. Judging from Identity Guard reviews, the services have been recognized by customers. Identity Guard has also received recognition from the Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll by the Online Trust Alliance for six consecutive years. 

Instant ID Verification Alerts 

Identity Guard monitoring service features include several tiers of service monitoring - including regular verification alerts. It will keep track of all your public information and instantly alert you if fraudulent activity is spotted. Your name and Social Security number will be monitored across thousands of databases, giving your entire family impeccable ID theft protection. The Watson AI platform watches online for patterns that might indicate a stolen identity or alterations in your credit account, alerting you proactively to changes that may be dangerous. AI features make Identity Guard one of the leading credit report monitoring companies on the market.

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus

There is no doubt that the use of Watson-enabled service brings a multitude of benefits to the monitoring of your personal information. The company offers several tiers of protection and credit monitoring, depending on how frequently you wish to be updated on your credit reports. The Total and Premier Plans offer monitoring over all three major credit bureaus. These programs provide the credit monitoring service on a monthly basis. However, with the basic Value plan’s affordable price you still get dark web monitoring and access to a risk management report - just without access to all three major credit bureaus. 

Affordable Price

The company’s basic Value plan costs only $8.99 a month, offering inexpensive ID theft protection services and a solid risk management plan. Even though you don’t have many benefits in this plan, you still get ID theft assistance with Watson AI monitoring and $1 million reimbursement insurance.

Priced at $19.99 a month, Identity Guard Total issues alerts to any change in your credit file and Vantage 3.0 monthly credit score in addition to the Value plan’s features. 

You get reports from three agencies on an annual basis in Identity Guard’s $24.99 Total package. One of the main perks is the “social insight report,” which can be very useful.

Identity Guard offers a family version of each plan to cover all family members at a single address. The Family Value plan will cost you $6 per month extra, and the Total and Premier plans are $10 more.

From dark web monitoring, account takeover alerts, an identity theft insurance plan, privacy assist, and social insight reports to access to all three major bureaus and family discount options, this service has got you covered.     

ID Theft Victim Assistance

Identity Guard’s identity theft assistance is proclaimed to be the best service in Consumer Reports. It will surely help you complete the many steps needed to protect yourself if your identity is stolen. 
  
One of the most important features of the Total Family is the monitoring of your personal information - and your children’s information - on the dark web. Identity Guard’s advanced software analyzes billions of data points, sending an alert to your mobile phone when trouble arises. This is exactly what brought the company to the top of the lists in many of the Identity Guard reviews we stumbled upon. In the event that you are a victim of ID theft, Identity Guard provides you with a personal case manager and recovery services, including fraud insurance of up to $1 million.

Why Identity Guard:

  • Many alert features available on every tier level
  • Dark web monitoring of your personal details
  • Monthly credit score and three-bureau monitoring (Total and Premier plans only)  
  • ID theft assistance and recovery support on every tier level
  • Affordable entry-level service with basic identity protection
+ Show more

LifeLock

Quick Facts
4.5 stars Our Rating
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $8.29/mo

Lifelock tops our list as a trusted name in ID theft protection and credit card monitoring. The company has come a long way since it was subjected to multiple Federal Trade Commission investigations that were eventually settled in 2015. 

Lifelock’s founder has openly posted his Social Security number on multiple platforms as an expression of confidence about Lifelock. Numerous identity attacks occurred, but LifeLock’s services helped him recover, so the stunt plays pretty well in Lifelock reviews. The company offers a wide variety of protection services with many additional layers of protection ranging from $9.99 per month to $29.00. Let’s answer the main question - is Lifelock worth it?

Instant ID Verification Alerts 

Lifelock lets you learn your credit score on a monthly basis, while full credit report updates are provided once a year. A unique feature that earns Lifelock a place on the list of leading credit monitoring apps is the pre-approved-credit-offer reduction service, which can be useful if you would like to be removed from mailing lists and avoid being bombarded with new offers. Lifelock proactively monitors thousands of black markets and dark web websites where pirated financial information is sold. The company will alert you immediately if your email, postal address, or other personal details are in danger.

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus 

Lifelock offers online scans for names and addresses associated with your Social Security number. Upgrading to the $17.99 Advantage plan will add a stack of additional features to your account: identity monitoring, court records scanning, data breach notifications, and annual credit reports. With the Ultimate Plus plan ($29.99) you will receive their best monthly credit monitoring service along with the reports from all three credit bureaus, credit-inquiry alerts, sex-offender registry reports, and monthly credit score tracking.

Affordable Price

What are Lifelock expenses? Much less than having your identity stolen, that’s for sure. LifeLock protection plans start at an affordable $9.99 per month, and this includes the standard service of analyzing thousands of databases to keep your details protected.

This basic service level doesn’t include credit reports from all three credit bureaus and other interesting features, however. If you choose to upgrade to one of the more expensive Lifelock plans - the Advantage plan for $17.99 per month, for example - your details will be protected on a much higher level and scanned through a bigger number of databases. The Ultimate plan ($29.99) lets you ensure that you have the optimal credit monitoring alerts for your family and that the credit records of your entire household are fully protected even though the Lifelock price is a bit high.

ID Theft Victim Assistance 

With the Lifelock Junior add-on you can make sure that your child's identity is protected. That’s important: Children’s credit profiles are gold mines for identity thieves because they are usually unprotected. LifeLock Senior is a credit monitoring service for your parents. It’s useful because the elderly are especially vulnerable to identity theft. These add-ons cannot be purchased on their own; they must be bundled with another Lifelock plan. 

Why Lifelock:

  • Instant threat detection and alerts
  • Dark web market constant monitoring
  • Monthly credit score tracking (Ultimate plan includes reporting from three bureaus)
  • Provides support for restoring your identity through ID theft assistance program
  • On the pricey side, but with many levels and options 
+ Show more

Experian

Quick Facts
5 stars Our Rating
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
from $9.99/mo

Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Experian is one of the world’s largest credit reporting agencies. Its roots date back to 1826. Experian is present in 37 countries, with more than 17,000 employees. Experian has received awards from prominent agencies including the Forbes Top 100, Top Employers UK 2018, and many more. 

Instant ID Verification Alerts 

Experian provides triple-bureau monitoring with a multitude of options for one-time access to your credit report. Experian fraud alerts and around-the-clock monitoring will keep you updated on your credit details weekly, monthly, or annually. One of the biggest advantages of choosing one of the major bureaus for credit monitoring is that you will be able to act quickly in case of fraudulent activities. Experian staff will immediately contact the other two credit reporting companies to alert them and quickly freeze your files. 

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus 

Experian credit bureau is one of the three major reporting agencies, and therefore is able to give you the most accurate information and much greater insights into your credit. Your Experian credit score follows the FICO model. It is one of the most commonly used scores and it is usually what lenders base their decisions on.

Experian’s credit score monitoring app will give you access to your credit information. Experian also offers a unique credit score simulator that can show you how a change like opening a new credit-card account can affect your overall credit score.

Affordable Price

Experian could charge premium rates as one of the three main credit bureaus, but its monthly fees fall within the average range. For $19.95 per month you will get the Experian annual report along with your personal FICO report monthly. If you opt for a $39.95 per month plan, you will get Experian credit monitoring and identity protection along with your monthly FICO score. Unfortunately, some of the advanced ID protection features require an additional monthly payment of $15.95. Yes, it’s expensive. But with these features you will receive the best service available - plus excellent identity theft protection.

ID Theft Victim Assistance 

Experian offers predictable, common identity monitoring features. The company’s main focus is credit monitoring, after all. The company’s identity theft protection features fall short when compared with those from other credit monitoring companies. Some of those features include a daily Experian dark web scan and fraud resolution assistance. In addition to personal credit monitoring, Experian offers credit monitoring and protection for small business owners, which seems to be hard to find on the current market. If by any chance you become a victim of identity theft, all you need to do is dial Experian customer service number. Experian’s ID theft insurance fund covers you up to $1 million. 

Why Experian: 

  • Instant threat alerts to you and all three credit bureaus
  • Monthly credit score tracking using FICO score model
  • ID theft assistance program with reimbursement insurance
  • Affordable base price with additional levels with advanced features
+ Show more

Privacy Guard

Quick Facts
5 stars Our Rating
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
Yes
Price:
From $9.99/mo

PrivacyGuard is a service provided by Trilegiant Corp. in conjunction with Trilegiant Insurance Services and Alliance Marketing Association. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. Since 1973, it has offered US residents identity theft protection and credit card monitoring.

Instant ID Verification Alerts

PrivacyGuard states that it will monitor your credit on a daily basis and alert you via text message, email, or phone if any changes occur in your credit files. The service doesn’t offer two-factor authentication when accessing your account, but all you need to do is to enter the last four digits of your Social Security number when logging in. PrivacyGuard scans the open and dark web for signs of your personal information and alerts you immediately. 

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus

PrivacyGuard will provide you with three-bureau credit scores and reports on a monthly or even daily basis. This service doesn’t stop with credit data; it includes a wide array of interesting features such as financial calculators and identity theft protection features. As soon as you join, you will activate all 3 bureaus reports and get access to an annual report of your credit scores. The scores you receive are based on the Vantage 3.0 scoring system, a part of the national standard. 

PrivacyGuard does a nice job of organizing credit information in an easy-to-read format with highly detailed explanations of your scores. You also get access to an excellent “what-if” calculator that will help you see how your scores might change in case of debt or credit inquiries with easy-to-understand graphs of your credit history. 

Affordable Price

You will face a decision among three versions of this credit score monitoring app: a basic plan that is more focused on identity protection, a more expensive plan that's all about credit monitoring, and a premium plan that combines both. 

The first tier, PrivacyGuard ID Protection, starts at $9.99 a month. It is aimed at protection against identity theft. 

With The Credit Protection plan ($19.99 per month), you will have access to a merged credit report that is updated monthly. Along with that report, you will receive a Vantage 3.0 score based on each credit bureau’s data. 

Total Protection requires $24.99 per month. It combines both ID Protection and Credit Protection services. You also get Norton Security antivirus protection.

At the moment, PrivacyGuard doesn’t offer a stand-alone plan for families. PrivacyGuard does have a 14-day trial program, however.

 
ID Theft Victim Assistance

PrivacyGuard’s service includes a personal resolution expert who will help you every step of the way if you become a victim of identity theft. The resolution team receives plenty of praises on credit monitoring services review pages.

Identity fraud support service is available around the clock and it will proactively notify you if the company stumbles on any suspicious activity. 

Besides the established ID protection system, the team offers identity protection education to help you learn how you can prevent identity theft, plus many helpful tips on how to protect your credit. PrivacyGuard offers a $1 million reimbursement policy which also receives lots of praise in credit monitoring reviews.

Why PrivacyGuard:

  • Instant threat detection alerts, but no verification alerts
  • Dark web market constant monitoring
  • Monthly credit score tracking and three-bureaus report (Credit Protection and Total Protection tiers)
  • Identity restoration specialists and ID theft insurance
  • Affordable prices and 14-day free trial
+ Show more

TransUnion

Quick Facts
4.5 stars Our Rating
ID Theft Insurance:
Up to $1 million
Bureaus monitored:
3
Dark web scanning:
No
Price:
Free / $24.95 per month

TransUnion collects and aggregates information on more than a billion consumers in over 30 countries.

Instant ID Verification Alerts

With TransUnion credit monitoring you will receive monthly monitoring of your credit score and your credit reports. Whenever suspicious activity or changes to any of the accounts listed on your credit report arise, TransUnion will alert you via text message, email, or phone. While TransUnion is mainly a credit score monitoring company, it offers identity theft protection as well. The service will monitor public records that pertain to your name, address, or Social Security number. As one of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion will alert you in the event that a problem shows up on any of the three credit bureau services, which is quite an advantage. 

Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus

One of the factors that make TransUnion a great monitoring app is the fact that TransUnion is a credit reporting agency, and with its service, you will be getting the real deal data, the ratings used by lenders, not a representative score designed to imitate a real credit score. TransUnion will provide updates as they develop, rather than only at specific times and events. You will have access to the TransUnion Credit lock option, which allows you to control whether or not third parties can review your credit. Other services don’t have a feature like this one. The FICO score, credit, and debt analysis tools await you if you opt for this service provider. 

Affordable Price

With TransUnion’s True Identity program, you get a service that monitors public records for personal details as well as changes to credit scores - at absolutely no charge. 

TransUnion credit report free reports await those who set aside $24.95 per month. With this tier, users are able to activate the security freeze feature, which will block lenders from fully accessing their credit reports. Additionally, the paid tiers bring forth a multitude of ID theft protection features that protect your credit reports.

ID Theft Victim Assistance

Even though there are ID theft protection features at the first level of TransUnion’s credit score monitoring service, you can add some features once you get into the higher membership tier. You will receive additional layers of protection and around-the-clock monitoring of public records for personal details and suspicious activity. Alerts will be activated immediately if the monitoring department spots anything similar to fraud. Other interesting features include lost-wallet protection, address-change monitoring, and access to identity restoration specialists. This TransUnion customer service program will lead you through appropriate procedures if you become an ID theft victim, granting you $25,000 in theft insurance. 

Why TransUnion:

  • Instant threat detection and notification alerts
  • Dark web marketplace monitoring
  • Monthly credit score tracking and three-bureau report
  • Additional features: credit lock and lost-wallet protection
  • Identity restoration specialists and ID theft insurance of $25,000
  • Affordable price and seven-day trial
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Fortunly’s Guide to Credit Monitoring Services

Is it worth paying for credit monitoring?

Even before reading this article, you were probably familiar with credit monitoring and the importance of protecting your personal information. Employing some sort of credit reports and scores monitoring service is an absolute necessity. 

Given how important credit monitoring is, you should always have a basic idea about your credit score and a plan of action to improve it. The identity theft protection offered by most credit monitoring providers should be considered a different kind of necessity.

Let’s have a quick breakdown on a couple of important aspects of credit monitoring and give more advice on how to protect your identity.

Identity theft: What you need to know

There are some key things to keep in mind about identity theft protection and monitoring services. First, early detection is the key. When looking for a credit monitoring provider, you should bear in mind that it will not really be about preventing the initial breach of your personal information. That is out of your hands. The protection should be all about getting a head-up as soon as possible about every suspicious activity. 

Reliable identity protection providers make sure to monitor your information across thousands of databases and notify you if your details have been misused by thieves. This gives you a fighting chance of freezing your files or alerting your ID theft insurance provider. A selection of credit monitoring service reviews like this one can help you choose one that suits your needs. 

Not all credit monitoring services are equally reliable. That’s why this guide is limited to a small number of the very best, most reliable services. 

What Are Identity Thieves Searching For?

Cyber attackers will stop at nothing to steal the information they need from someone. There are a lot of identity theft protection measures, and if you neglect just one they will find you. Here is what they are looking for:

  • Credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes
  • Social Security numbers 
  • Birth dates
  • Bank account numbers
  • User names and passwords
  • Full names
  • Driver’s license information
  • Passport information
  • Phone numbers
  • Professional license numbers
  • Insurance identification numbers
  • Addresses

Depending on who steals this information and for what purposes - know they will be able to use it to sell your credit reports or personal details on the dark web. For instance, scam calls that harvest bank account information rely upon stolen phone numbers from the dark web. Even the sophisticated credit monitoring app will not be able to track every attack.
 
But there is one thing that can help you in this case.   

Understanding Identity Theft Protection Insurance

Identity theft protection insurance is an important part of credit monitoring. You may feel confident if you are using an online credit monitoring to protect your banking and advise you on fraudulent activity, but your confidence will burst once you realize that by the time the theft was noticed, the damage was done. That’s the very reason identity theft insurance is growing in popularity.
 
The best credit monitoring services offer an insurance policy that ranges between $25,000 to $1 million. By purchasing an identity theft insurance you are doing what you already do in other aspects of your everyday life - you insure your home, your car, your health and so on. Your identity and financial details need the same protection.
 
Here is what is usually covered by the identity theft protection insurance:

  • Legal fees
  • Phone bills related to investigation
  • Lost wages
  • Credit monitoring fees
  • Child care
  • Copies of credit reports
  • And much more

Besides the peace of mind you will get with this safety net, many companies will put you in touch with identity theft resolution specialists who will help you navigate through the complicated process of restoring your identity.

What to look for in a credit monitoring provider

Given how important credit scores are, you should opt for a service with good reputation that will provide regular access to both your credit report and your credit scores. The top services will give you a detailed breakdown of your credit history, alert you if a third party has accessed your credit file, and protect your personal information across thousands of databases. The best way to get total protection is to choose the service that offers a complex credit monitoring and employs advanced technologies that will protect your identity. 

How else can I protect my credit?

There is another way to protect yourself from identity theft and make sure that your credit bureau reports are fully protected: a credit freeze. A freeze denies most creditors from accessing your annual credit report, including analyzing credit applications. Your credit history will deny access to anyone who tries to open a credit card or any other account under your name. 

The best service for you will depend on what you need from the provider - whether you are more concerned about your identity, your family’s credit file, or if you wish to build up your credit history. Once you’re clear on what you need, this article will help you discover the most suitable credit monitoring service for you. 

Protecting your credit is more important than ever. Your digital footprints are everywhere, and cyber thieves have much easier access to private data than they had ever before. Make sure to choose a service that will suit your needs and keep a close eye on the details.

FAQ

What is a credit monitoring service?

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Credit monitoring is the process of continuously reviewing your credit reports for changes that could indicate fraudulent activities.

Are credit monitoring providers worth it?

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Yes, since they help you protect your private details and credit file against cyber thieves who can abuse this information and steal or sell your identity on the dark web marketplace.

What are the top credit monitoring providers available?

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It depends on what your needs are. Here is a list of the leading services on the market:

  • LifeLock
  • Credit Sesame
  • Experian
  • Identity Guard
  • IdentityForce
  • Privacy Guard
  • TransUnion

Do I need credit monitoring if I freeze my credit?

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A security freeze will prevent any third party from accessing your credit file for a certain period of time, but it’s not a long-term solution.

Does credit monitoring affect credit score?

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No. Credit monitoring cannot affect your credit score. On the contrary, it can help you improve your credit and monitor your progress by providing a more detailed breakdown of your credit history.