Monitoring ones credit is a valuable way of preventing credit damage and credit fraud. Monitoring can be done by an agency for a consumer for a price, or by the consumer him or herself. Credit reporting agencies offer to “monitor” your credit for a price. Credit monitoring services can be costly, a reason why many individuals shy away from them. These services cost anywhere between about $40 to nearly $150 per year depending upon the provider. Typically, these services say they will notify you if anything unusual or suspicious appears on your consumer credit report. Since these agencies are likely to do a more thorough, honest job than the individual, it is sometimes better to pay the price. Although this is true, there is another general opinion that says “Don’t bother with credit-monitoring services, monitor your own credit.” One can monitor his or her own credit to make sure that his/her record is a fair and accurate representation. This can be done by ordering and reviewing consumer credit reports from the three major reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

A report can be requested from each of the three consumer credit reporting bureaus at the same time. The advantage of reviewing the three reports simultaneously that a complete picture of consumer credit report history could be rendered. This overall look at the 3 scores is representative of a “true credit score.” However, if an individual wants to monitor the accuracy of his/her consumer credit reports throughout the year, the consumer should request a report from one bureau initially, then follow up with another bureau’s report four months later and the third four months after that. This is an effective way to monitor credit at no cost. If errors are found, no matter how small, be sure to get them fixed, and make sure that all three bureaus are contacted with notice of your. One should receive amended reports within a week after the changes take effect. Be sure to close long unused accounts that are listed as still active on your consumer credit report. Unused accounts are opportunities for identity thieves. If an account is closed, ask that it be listed as “closed at the request of the consumer.”