Friday, March 8, 2013

Are You Protecting Your Credit Standing?

A clean, accurate credit history is a critical piece to the personal finance puzzle. Staying on top of your credit standing over time can mean big savings, since credit scores often determine your access to loans, interest rates, and monthly payments. An error on the report of any of the three major credit agencies - Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion - could be catastrophic next time you apply for a loan.

There are multiple credit-monitoring services you can utilize that charge approximately $15 per month, but these fees likely aren't necessary. You can order a free credit report from each of the three major credit agencies every year by visiting

Additionally, several services will send you updates from the credit bureaus at no cost. Credit Sesame will track data on your Experian report daily and instantly email you if anything suspicious pops up. There are over 35 triggers for alerts, including new accounts opened, late payments, credit inquires, and address changes. The website also provides a running credit score daily.

Credit Karma has a similar tool that provides free daily monitoring of your TransUnion report. This tool also provides valuable data such as how many lines of credit are evaluated on your credit report and your auto insurance score (used to determine your insurance premiums).

Again, both monitoring tools are free, don't require a credit card, and take no longer than a couple minutes to sign up for.

Getting an instant heads-up that there's been a change in your report could help you fix errors quickly, catch an identity theft at work, or get on top of a delinquent account. You've worked hard to establish your credit, so make sure you protect it.

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