It's getting to be a much more common thing – more and more people are signing up with credit monitoring services. And it's an action that Consumer Reports says is unnecessary.
In a recent Consumer Reports Money Adviser report, the Adviser looked at credit monitoring services offered by the three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The Adviser called the services, "overrated, oversold and overpriced."
Although the credit bureaus say that monitoring credit reports is the best way to protect consumers against identity theft, the Adviser noted that monitoring of the three credit bureaus' reports is only one way to keep an eye on one's personal information, and not the most effective way, overall.
The fact is that no one person or service can prevent identity theft or identity fraud. The whole point of a credit monitoring service is to catch a thief in the act – once the information has been stolen, a credit monitoring service is supposed to pick up on illegal activity in the form of new, fraudulent accounts appearing on the victim's credit report. Once this is detected, the consumer can then take action to counter it.
But if credit monitoring doesn't prevent identity theft, what good is it? Credit monitoring can be a good thing as part of a total package of protection, but shouldn't be the only preventive measure taken. Credit monitoring, in addition to identity theft protection and your own personal actions like shredding documents bearing personal information and taking great care when online, can all work together to protect you from theft. One product, on its own, just isn't enough.