Credit Monitoring vs. Identity Theft Protection

  • By Maria
  • Jun 03, 2022

credit monitoring vs identity theft protection

In today’s high-tech world, identity theft and fraud are all too common. Scams are changing and evolving, often becoming savvier and harder to spot. While it is easy to become a victim of identity theft unknowingly, the effects of identity fraud can harm you for years to come. These can include damage to your credit rating, lost funds, and endless hours of your time to clean up the resulting mess. It is essential to understand common threats and prevention steps you can take and how to mitigate the damage of fraud once it occurs. Preventing identity theft and fraud is easier and more effective than responding to identity theft, and identity theft protection and credit monitoring are two categories of useful prevention tools. 

What is Identity Theft Protection?

Identity theft protection services can help spot signs that your personal information is being used fraudulently. There are a number of services that are available for a nominal fee. These work to scan online locations, including websites, databases, and even the dark web, to spot your identifying information. If your personal information, such as your social security number, driver’s license number, or bank account number, is spotted, the service will issue an alert that goes to you. You then will need to explore if the use is fraudulent or legitimate. These alerts are real-time, so if your information is being used in an unauthorized way, you may be able to stop the fraud before any severe damage occurs. 

What is Credit Monitoring?

Credit monitoring services can also be used to help prevent identity theft and resulting fraud. Like identity theft protection services, credit monitoring services are offered for a low monthly fee. Once enrolled, they monitor your credit report across the different credit reporting bureaus to spot irregular activities and credit score changes, alerting you instantly. This allows you to look into any suspect activities and take corrective action as needed. In addition to helping prevent identity theft and responding quickly to fraud attempts, credit monitoring is an excellent service if you are actively working on improving your credit. Some credit monitoring services include credit protection, which provides additional help to keep one’s credit report and score optimal. This might consist of quickly canceling lost and stolen credit and debit cards. 

Similarities and Differences

Credit monitoring and identity theft services are so similar that many confuse them. Similarities include: 

  • Both are intended to prevent and mitigate fraud resulting from identity theft and unauthorized use of personal, identifying information
  • Both alert you in real-time 
  • Both are available for a low monthly fee 
  • Both can be used for as little or as long as necessary 

There are also some differences between these two services that are important to understand: 

  • Identity theft protection monitors web activity, focusing primarily on monitoring websites that may be using your private information, while credit monitoring focuses on watching activities on your credit reports 
  • Credit monitoring can have additional benefits, such as gaining important insights into your credit that can be used to achieve better financial wellness.
  • Identity theft protection includes monitoring an illegitimate location that is not easy to access independently – the dark web. Credit monitoring can be done without a paid service, but less frequently. This is done by requesting a credit report from one of the credit reporting bureaus. The below bureaus are required to provide one free credit report to each person annually: 
    • TransUnion
    • Experian
    • Equifax
    • Innovis
  • Credit monitoring is sometimes included in identity theft protection services, but credit monitoring would not involve the broader suite of services that identity theft protection offers. 

Even the most careful people can fall victim to identity theft fraud. Identity theft strategies change and evolve as law enforcement cracks down on known fraudsters and attacks. Identity theft scams have been tied to significant world events like the COVID pandemic, which disarm people, making them more vulnerable to calls and emails. Specific demographic groups, such as the elderly or children, are often specifically targeted by fraudsters. Further compounding this is that people live busy daily lives, and there is no sign of a slowdown. No one is immune to the threat, and preventing identity theft and unauthorized use of your information is necessary to prevent and stop fraud as early as possible.

Consider using identity theft protection and credit monitoring to help you feel more secure and take the time-consuming manual work out of the monitoring steps. Compared with what identity theft can cost you, utilizing a low monthly fee service can be very advantageous. There is no one solution, and the climate of identity fraud is constantly shifting, so staying attentive and vigilant is essential. Companies specializing in identity theft and credit protection invest millions of dollars in evolving along with the scams continuously, so consider making these services a part of your strategy to protect yourself.

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