Earlier this year I started using Identity Guard to track both mine and my husband’s credit profiles. Why? Being that I manage all the money in our household, he had 1 very old issue pop up on his credit profile that we would have been aware of had we been checking his credit on a regular basis. I also had a woman try to to open up several charge cards and utility accounts using my information around the same time.
Needless to say I was pi$$ed.
So I needed to take charge of these issues via credit monitoring and I came across Identity Guard which seemed to offer all of the features I needed in a credit monitoring system:
- Access to all 3 credit reports
- Quarterly updates of our credit scores and reports in addition public reports (liens, judgements etc)
- Immediate notification of changes to the reports <<<—biggest selling point!
- Identity theft protection ($1 million dollar insurance)
Since starting with Identity Guard, I’ve been very pleased with the service. They bill my card $17.95 monthly for the service and when I am alerted to any changes, I get on the horn with the bank to investigate any issues. I love it! Every 3 months I am alerted to any changes on our credit reports while getting up to date credit scores. If I want immediate access in between the quarterly updates then I pay $14.95 for all three reports and scores. For me, that’s a sweet deal!
Comparing the Competition: MyFico.com
While I’ve been a long time user of MyFico.com, I was disappointed to see that they did not have a complete system which addressed my needs. That is, they do not provide access to all three credit reports and all three FICO scores (Equifax, Transunion and Experian) in addition to credit monitoring with their Score Watch product. They only seem to offer access to your Equifax report and credit score (with monitoring) as of this writing.
Your Bank May Offer A Complete Product
Different banks offer various products but in my research I haven’t been able to find one that offers all three FICO scores in addition to the credit report with up to the minute credit monitoring. This is also due to the fact that Experian stopped allowing consumers to purchase their scores back in February 2009.
Identity Guard’s Credit Score (FAKO) vs FICO Score
From Identity Guard:
Q. Is my credit report and score the same as my FICO score?
No, the score we provide to you is based on data from the three credit bureaus, via CreditXpert. Although certain economic conditions affect the flexibility of your credit score, CreditXpert provides a much more accurate assessment of your credit score than FICO because it’s based on data from the past two years.
I don’t really believe in the marketing genie which tells us that the FICO scores we see Suze Orman push are king. After going through the mortgage process and discussing credit with some other financial institutions, they did not use this scoring model to assess our credit. And while it might be used by some (they claim most) banks, it isn’t used by all. There are several other scoring models out there and each model serves a unique purpose to the institution that uses it.
Aside-More on that in an upcoming post about the differences and debatable use of scores given how inaccurate the information is on our credit reports. Frankly, there was a time when I was concerned about credit scores, but now, not so much. That’s because other than paying off credit cards, I don’t utilize credit for anything and I have never had a late payment-ever.
When we compared our FICO scores with the Identity Guard scores, they were pretty much identical. So I tend to think that great marketing puts FICO in use with more banks and keeps them top of mind with consumers but I don’t think they are any more accurate. So, my assessment of this issue is that FICO is just one of many and happens to be more popular due to good marketing. Not necessarily more accurate.
As they say, different strokes for different folks and I don’t advocate one more than the other nor am I being paid to write this post for Identity Guard. Their product just happens to work well for me. I do have another option with my own bank which I plan to look into early next year.
What credit monitoring services do you use? Do they give you access to all three FICO scores? Tell us about it in the comments area!