How to Monitor Your Credit

|
Monitor credit
Image Credit: Dreamstime

As sensitive personal information increasingly falls into the hands of criminals due to the failures of cybersecurity, it is more important now than ever to monitor your credit.

By keeping an eye on your credit score and credit report, you can make sure you know if someone has opened unwanted accounts in your name.

Monitoring your credit has the added bonus of helping you make sure you’re on the right path financially when it comes to how lenders view you.

The Easiest Ways to Monitor Your Credit

In order to monitor your credit with as little effort as possible, you will need to set up an account or two first. If you have already frozen your credit, you will need to unfreeze it with one or more of the credit bureaus in order to set up these accounts.

Monitoring Your Credit With Credit Karma and Credit Sesame

When we talk about monitoring your credit, we are talking about keeping an eye on both your credit reports and your credit scores.

Your credit reports include all the details on your credit accounts, both current and closed. The reports track payments and other information for every loan, credit card and any other line of credit you have. 

Your credit scores, on the other hand, are numbers based on that credit history and activity.

If you have any credit history, all three of the credit bureaus we’ve mentioned have both a credit report and a credit score associated with you. The good news is that you can access all of this information for free online.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma
Credit Karma

Money expert Clark Howard’s favorite site for monitoring your credit is Credit Karma. This site lets you keep tabs on your credit score and view your credit report for free. Once you set up your account, you will get:

Advertisement
  • Your estimated credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax
  • Access to your credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax
  • The option to be alerted when your credit score changes or something is added to your credit report (Credit monitoring)
  • Additional services like identity monitoring, free tax filing, and access to your auto insurance score

Again, you will need to set up your Credit Karma account before you freeze your credit or unfreeze your credit if it is already frozen in order to sign up.

Read more about signing up for Credit Karma here.

Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame
Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame is a site similar to Credit Karma, albeit a little more limited. It’s also largely free and signing up gets you:

  • Your estimated credit score from TransUnion
  • The option to be alerted when your credit score changes or something is added to your credit report (Credit monitoring)
  • Additional services like identity protection and limited identity theft insurance

Unlike Credit Karma, Credit Sesame does not give you free access to any of your credit reports.

Read more about signing up for Credit Sesame here.

Other Ways to Monitor Your Credit

You may have noticed that neither Credit Karma nor Credit Sesame gives you access to your Experian credit report and score. The good news is that you can get your reports for free directly from both Experian and Equifax by creating online accounts with them (Experian also includes your credit score):

TransUnion does not currently provide free access to your credit report.

However, by law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the bureaus per year. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only place authorized by the federal government to give you access to all three at once.

AnnualCreditReport.com
AnnualCreditReport.com

Read more about the different ways to get your free credit reports here.

Advertisement

Freezing Your Credit

Finally, while monitoring your credit is crucial, it still means that you’ll only find out if someone else has opened a credit line in your name after the fact. The most important thing to do with regard to your credit is to freeze it with all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

With a credit freeze in place, no one (not even you) will be able to open new lines of credit in your name without first unfreezing your credit, which only you should be able to do.

Get step-by-step instructions for freezing your credit with all three credit bureaus here.

More Credit-Related Stories From Clark.com:

Advertisement
  • Show Comments Hide Comments