04-12-2010 02:15 PM - edited 05-21-2013 07:46 PM
Credit Monitoring Service (CMS) Guide
Why this thread? Most of us, at some point, engaged in the process of cleaning up our credit. We all searched for the best deal, and if anyone was like me, I had no clue what was out there and what was available. Hopefully this guide will help others.
Why a CMS? It depends on your goals. Some of us actually see and experience changes on a daily and weekly basis and being up-to-date and current of what’s happening to our reports is critical and having access to a daily puller is important. It is far cheaper and effective to subscribe to a daily puller than it is to fork out $10-$15 on a daily basis at the CRAs to see those same changes. Yet others are coasting into the credit sunset and pulling weekly or even monthly isn’t that important.
As you can see, there are many CMS-related products offering different things. There are differing standards as to what defines monitoring, scores, and even reports. I scoured the web and looked on these forums to see what others were using and came up with the list below. This list doesn’t include everything. There are hundreds of more services, many of which just resell what has been listed already, yet others appeared scam-like and didn’t include them in this list. Please use due diligence when subscribing to a CMS. Many of them do have hidden fees which are only detailed in the fine print.
Note that not all CMSs are the same. Some define “unlimited credit report access” to mean you only get one report for a length of time or forever. Others define that statement as unlimited pulls or even unlimited pulls of one CR vs. all three. The term “monitoring” differed too. Monitoring for some CMSs meant monitoring only once per month. Yet others were daily, and included one CRA. Read the T&C closely. Finally, know that virtually all CMSs (except for myFICO), that give credit scores, offer FAKOs. The only places you can get your EQ FICO score is from your lender, myFICO.com, and from one or two limited places at Equifax.com. You can get your TU FICO from your lender or myFICO.com. Finally, there is no CMS anywhere that offers an EX FICO score, but you can get it from your lender or from a CU in PA called PSECU, and maybe others. Any score from any source is a FAKO. BTW, in researching this, I found a large number of websites that promoted CMSs and claim they offered FICO scores. Ignore them because of false advertising. When in doubt ask here and someone will do some research. Aside from ignoring FAKOs, ignore their advice too.
Errors and Omissions – there’s probably a few. If you see something wrong, reply to this thread and I’ll do my best to fix it. If there’s a CMS that is being missed, give a head’s up too.
As always...be sure to get your free reports once per year via www.annualcreditreport.com.
Experian (EX) -owned products:
creditchecktotal.com - $29.95/mo - FAKO (PLUS score) - CCT allows you to pull all 3 CRs only three times per month. At one point, you could pull all three credit reports daily. Monitors all 3 reports for major changes. The scores offered for all 3 are PLUS scores. Creditors like USAA resell this product at a good discount. As of this post, the USAA resell product (Premium) still allows for daily pulls. Updated 2/20/2012+
freecreditreport.com - $19.99/mo - FAKO (PLUS score) - FCR is setup exactly like CCT, but you can only see your EX report and you can pull that once per day. There’s an extra cost if you want to pull the other two reports. Monitors EX bi-monthly for changes. The score offered is also a PLUS score. Updated 11/18/2012
Experian Credit Tracker - $14.95/mo - FAKO (PLUS Score) - Experian is rebranding some of their products and this is the latest. You can pull unlimited EX reports w/ their FAKO and it also provides monitoring of TU and EQ for changes. You can also order a tri-merge report for an additional $39.95. Aside from minor formatting differences, this product is just like freecreditreport.com. This product is also resold through creditors like Credit One Bank. Updated 11/18/2012
Triple Alert - $8.95/mo - FAKO (PLUS score) - Triple Alert is the monitoring aspect of the above. You don’t get any reports, but it will monitor all 3 reports for changes on a daily basis. You can order all 3 reports for an extra one-time of $24.95 and you get a PLUS score for EX.
FreeCreditScore.com - $14.99/mo - FAKO (PLUS score) - This product monitors EX only on an ongoing basis with refreshed EX reports once per month. It'll also provides you with a PLUS score update on a biweekly basis. A version of this service is offered through LendingTree and others. Updated 11/18/2012
TransUnion (TU)-owned products:
Truecredit.com - $16.95/mo - FAKO (VantageScore) - TC offers a 3-in-1 report every 30 days and will provide updates to your TU report only on a daily basis. The scores offered are Vantage scores. Updated 2/20/2012
Zendough.com - $29.95/mo - FAKO (VantageScore) - Zendough started late in 2009 and monitors TU only. It’s a unique layout that rearranges your TU CR to offer a different view on reporting. It summarizes reporting aspects like your identity, credit balances, your debt, your alerts, and more and puts it all in a nifty format. The TU report is updated every 30 days. The score offered is a Vantage score. Updated 11/18/2012
Equifax (EQ)-owned products:
Equifax’s ScoreWatch - FICO (Beacon 5.0 on EQ) - $14.95/mo - Equifax’s version of SW is virtually the same as myFICO’s version of SW, though with a much different layout. It monitors your EQ report only for certain changes. You also get 2 free Equifax reports w/ a FICO score when you subscribe with one of those two going towards your first EQ pull. Updated 11/18/2012
Equifax ID Patrol - $16.95/mo (sale right now for $14.95/mo) - No score - Equifax ID Patrol monitors EQ only and allows you to pull an unlimited number of EQ reports. You also get a 3-in-1 report for all 3 CRAs when you first sign-up, minus scores. Updated 11/18/2012
Debt Wise - $14.95/mo - FAKO (Equifax Credit Score) - Debt Wise monitors EQ only but rearranges the report content to become a tool for those who want to get out of debt. Also with the subscription each year, you get one 3-in-1 report from the 3 CRAs and 4 FAKO scores for EQ only called the Equifax Credit Score, as well as monitoring on EQ only. Lenders like NFCU, also offer this and other EQ products. Updated 11/18/2012
Credit Watch - $12.95/mo (Gold) - No score - When you first sign up to CW, you get an EQ CR. You can also pull an unlimited number of EQ reports (minus any score). This product also monitors EQ for key changes in the report. There's also a CW version for $2 more/mo. that includes their EQ FAKO. Updated 11/18/2012
Equifax Complete - $19.95/mo (Premier Plan) - FAKO (Equifax Credit Score) - This product gives you monitoring on all 3 and an initial pull for all 3 CRAs along with EQ's FAKO score called an "Equifax Credit Score". The 3-in-one report w/ FAKO scores only comes once per year and each additional report is $29.95 if you'd like to order more reports in the interim. However, you do get daily EQ pulls for the full EQ report and FAKO with your subscription of Equifax Complete Premier. For $3 less per month, EQ also offers a lesser plan which excludes their FAKO, among a couple of others. You can still get the Premier-equivalent plan for $16.95 via here. Lenders like NFCU, also offer this and other EQ products. Updated 11/18/2012
Equifax Three-in-One Credit Monitoring w/ 4 FICO Scores - $14.95/mo - FICO (Beacon 5.0 on EQ) - Equifax will monitor all 3 reports for major changes and get all 3 reports upon signing up. As a benefit to the service, you also get access to 4 EQ FICO scores during the course of a year and can use them at your choosing. Equifax still partners with myFICO for this service.
ScoreWatch - $14.95/mo - FICO (Beacon 5.0 on EQ) - SW monitors your EQ report and your EQ FICO score for major changes and alerts you to those changes. With your subscription, you also get 2 EQ FICO reports per year with one of those being used when you first subscribe. If you wish to purchase more reports, you get a discount on future EQ FICO reports at a 30% discount.
FICO Quarterly Monitoring - $4.95/mo - FICO (TU98) - TUQM monitors your TU report for demographic and identification changes each week as well as changes to your TU report like new accounts, balances, etc. every 3 months. It also will automatically deliver a new TU FICO report every 3 months and will provide an analysis of changes at that time. If you wish to purchase more reports for TU only, you are offered a 20% discount. Updated 2/20/2012
CreditKarma.com - FREE - FAKO (TransRisk and VantageScore) - CK offers a free service that pulls your TU report and shows summaries only of key aspects of your TU report like overall balances, utilization, their version of AAoA, TL counts, inquiry count, percentage of on-time payments, and more. It also provides daily monitoring for TU. CK doesn’t offer solid details but does give you a rough idea of what’s happening. You can refresh your TU info daily. Other companies, like Sears, also offers CK's service. Updated 2/22/2012
IdentityGuard - $19.00/mo - FAKO (CreditXpert) - It monitors all 3 reports daily and offers new reports with their FAKO on a quarterly basis only. The score used is called a “CreditXpert Credit Score” and is a proprietary score set up via CreditXpert. Other companies resell this service and include Costco, among others. This is a Trilegiant company. Updated 11/18/2012+
PrivacyGuard - $14.99/mo - FAKO (CreditXpert) - this is also a rebranded version of IdentityGuard but you can get an updated 3-in-1 CR quarterly with FAKOs. The score is also a “CreditXpert Credit Score”. Anyone can sign up and some banks resell this service and include M&T Bank and others. This is a Trilegiant company. Updated 11/20/2012
Citi IdentityMonitor - $12.95/mo - FAKO (CreditXpert) - This CMS gives you the opportunity to pull all 3 CRs and scores monthly. It also monitors your CRs "every business day". Updated 2/22/2012
Privacy Assist - $12.99/mo (Premier plan) - FAKO (CreditXpert) - Privacy Assist, owned by FIA Card Services, is sold mostly through third-party resellers like BofA and offers daily monitoring on all 3 on "every business day", and gives you a quarterly update only on any changes to your credit reports like balance changes, credit limit changes, FAKOs, etc. As of the Spring of 2012, this service has been discontinued for new members. Updated 6/10/2012
IdentitySecure - $17.99/mo - FAKO (CreditXpert) - Trilegiant created this service and offers credit reports w/ the FAKO CreditXpert score(s). The service description is vague on their signup page as are the Terms, and even after a phone call, the CSR directed me to one of their re-sells vs. signing up through them, but the CSR said it is likely a quarterly 3-in-1 pull only with ongoing monitoring. Others institutions offer this like Fifth Third Bank, National Assoc. of Realtors, and others. Each re-seller can set their own frequency per CR updates. Some are monthly and some are quarterly. Updated 11/20/2012
Privacy Matters 123 - $14.95/mo - FAKO (TransRisk) - This CMS is similar TrueCredit in layout, since it is a TransUnion Interactive resell. When you subscribe, you get all 3 reports and all 3 FAKOs refreshed every 30 days. It also provides monitoring on all three reports. Updated 2/23/2012
EliminateIDTheft - $12.95/mo - FAKO (TransRisk) - EIDT is a daily puller backed by TransUnion Interactive (e.g. like TrueCredit and Privacy Matters) but you can pull all three reports on a daily basis and provides monitoring. The FAKO score offered is a TransRisk score. Thanks fellow mod beamMEup for providing the link.
CreditReport.com - $19.95/mo - FAKO (PLUS score) - This CMS monitors all 3 reports on a daily basis and includes an Experian report and PLUS score upon signing up. It also monitors your score twice monthly. You can initially buy all 3 reports when you sign up, but at an extra premium and future Experian reports cost extra too. A sister company offers the exact same thing but at a price of $15.95 and that is called Creditwatch.com (aka ProtectmyID). Also rebranded as CreditScorePro.com and others. Updated 2/28/2012
Chase Identity Protection - $11.99/mo (Enhanced plan) - FAKO (CreditXpert score) - Chase revamped this service recently to create a monthly pull product w/ a monthly FAKO for all 3. It is a 3-tiered plan. The lowest is Premier and that gives you an initial 3-in-1 pull w/ FAKOs for all 3, but no subsequent reports. Enhanced gives you the initial pull and monthly report and FAKO updates. Elite gives you the same with monitoring on public records and internet monitoring. Monitoring for all 3 is included in each plan.....Despite the revamp in 2011, it appears Chase ID Protect has shut down once again for new members. Updated 6/10/2012
USAA CreditCheck Monitoring - $12.25/mo - FAKO (PLUS score) - Their Premium service monitors all 3 CRs daily and you can also pull all 3 reports daily. This service is a CreditCheckTotal product (see above) and also offers PLUS scores.
Amex CreditSecure - $14.99/mo - FAKO (PLUS) score - CS was similar to CCT and allowed daily monitoring and at one point allowed daily pulls on all 3 reports. This is no longer the case for new members and per their T&C, you can only get all 3 reports twice per month. The score offered is a PLUS score. For an additional $10/mo., you also have the option to subscribe to CreditSecure Unlimited and you can get new reports daily as opposed to semi-monthly. Updated 2/23/2012
Quizzle.com - FREE to $25.00/mo - FAKO (CE Score) - There is a free aspect to this service where you can pull your EX report and FAKO twice each year, as weell as have the ability to pull extra EX reports at $7/each. As an add-on, you can subscribe to their monitoring service starting at $15/mo called "Level One". Under this plan, you can pull a new report and score monthly and it provides monitoring of your EX report. For $25/mo, you have access to "Level Two" which includes the same as Level One but adds in ID theft insurance. The FAKO score offered is called a “CE Score” and developed by CE Analytics. Updated 2/23/2012
AlertPlus - $9.95/mo - FAKO (PLUS Score) - This is offered via EX and is exactly like CreditCheckTotal but at a much cheaper price and you can pull all 3 reports each day. It’s available at that price with a caveat though: you have to use a Merrill Lynch Signature Rewards Visa CC. The scores are PLUS scores. Updated 2/23/2012
Credit Inform Premier via CapOne - $8.99/mo - FAKO (CreditXpert) - This service pulls your EX report quarterly and analyzes everything for you w/ charts, graphs, etc. The monitoring service monitors EX only and does so on a daily basis. The score offered is a CreditXpert score.
CreditKeeper - $9.99/mo - FAKO (ScoreX Plus and CreditXpert) - CreditKeeper is a CMS that monitors all 3 reports each day. It'll also provide all 3 reports and CreditXpert scores on a monthly basis. It also has a feature that automatically tracks your ScoreX Plus score on a monthly interval via their "Score Tracker". Other lenders offer this service including HSBC -based products, and others. The ScoreX Plus FAKO ranges from 300-900. Updated 2/23/2012
ITAC Sentinel - $12.99/mo - FAKO (CreditXpert) - ITAC (Identity Theft Assistance Center) Sentinel is a CMS that offers a 3-in-1 report when you sign up and you get quarterly updates thereafter. It does monitor all 3 on daily basis and offers a CreditXpert score. Other banks also offer this service and include TD Bank.
SmartCredit - $29.95/mo (Premier level) - FAKO (ConsumerDirect Credit Score) - Smart Credit designed custom reports. The price reflects the Premium service and touts unlimited report pulls and scores (FAKO). It also includes daily credit monitoring. If you look within the Terms, though, you'll see "unlimited" defined as 4 new reports per month at the $29.95 level or 1 new one at the lower level (Basic Membership). However, one fellow member said that you can request complimentary additional reports when you've used up your available ones. This FAKO has a range of 350-850. Updated 2/25/2012
ScoreSense - $29.95/mo - FAKO (CreditXpert) - ScoreSense is a CMS that pulls all 3 reports on a monthly basis and includes a FAKO score each time called the CreditXpert score. This product is also rebranded as MyCreditHealth.com, CheckMyCreditNow.com, FreeScore360.com, FreeOnlineScore and FreeScoreOnline (LOL). Updated 2/23/2012
CreditSesame - FREE - FAKO (EX's National Equivalency Score) - Like with Quizzle or CreditKarma, CreditSesame also offers a free credit score and report overview on a monthly basis. It'll show individual accounts, along with overviews on installments, revolving debt, etc. Based on the data, you'll be provided offers to refi, consolidate, and so on. The FAKO is a National Equivalency Score and that runs on a scale of 360-850. CreditSesame also offers monitoring for EX only for free and interim EX reports for $9/ea if you want to know your report more frequently than monthly. Updated 5/21/2013
MyScore.com - $29.95/mo - FAKO (TransRisk) - This product is also backed by TransUnion Interactive and is formatted much differently. It monitors all three reports. When you first subscribe you only get your TU report, with the option to buy all 3 reports for $24.95. It says you can purchase a 3-in-1 at that price every 7 days. You can update your TU report and score once every 30 days. And you can opt to purchase your TU only every 7 days at $6.95/pop. Added 5/21/2013
FreeScore.com - $14.95/mo - FAKO (TransRisk) - This product is backed by TransUnion Interactive and is just like TrueCredit, with the exception that you don't get daily TU updates. You do get all reports and FAKO scores every 30 days and do get monitoring updates if there are changes to your report(s). Updated 2/24/2012
Places to get your FICO score aside from myFICO or your lender:
Experian FICO flavors -
PSECU - Fair Isaac Risk Model II - FREE - Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union teamed up with FICO to provide a free EX FICO score and provides that on your monthly checking statement if you happen to have an account with them. This version of FICO is currently being used by a vast majority of mortgage lenders.
TransUnion FICO flavors -
Partners 1st Federal Credit Union (KY) - TUxx(?) - FREE - Partners 1st FCU advertises a service where you can sit down with one of their reps and they'll go over your score and your credit and will do so on a semi-annual basis as a benefit to the CU. They talk about FICO in several of their pages and also have online videos about FICO. One news source interviewed the CU and they said it was a FICO. After a phone call, they confirmed that they will review your TU FICO for free with you and go into depth about FICO scoring and how to improve your FICO score, if you go into a branch.
Merrick Bank Credit Card - Bankcard-Enhanced TU08 - FREE - As a Merrick Bank CC-holder, you get a monthly CC-enhanced TU FICO for free. It'll display the past few months' of FICO score history and pulls it off the monthly AR soft inquiries. It'll also display the top two negative scoring reasons. You have to sign up for paperless statements in order to receive this offer.
WalMart Store Card or WalMart Discover - TU08 - FREE - FICO partnered with the WalMart credit card to provide the newest Classic TU FICO score, TU08. This service updates monthly and displays your TU FICO score including your top two negative reason codes with your past score history.
SaveandInvest.org - TU98 - FREE - If you happen to be an active duty service member or a family member of one who are at risk financially, then you can get a free EQ or TU FICO score. FINRA Investor Education Foundation partnered up with myFICO to provide free scores to help those who might be at risk of losing their security clearance. It's the same scores as found on myFICO.
Equifax FICO flavors -
Digital Federal Credit Union - Beacon 5.0 - FREE - As a checking account holder for a couple of different checking accounts, DCU will provide for you your EQ FICO on a monthly basis and it'll be delivered via a private message.
SaveandInvest.org - Beacon 5.0 - FREE - If you happen to be an active duty service member or a family member of one who are at risk financially, then you can get a free EQ or TU FICO score. FINRA Investor Education Foundation partnered up with myFICO to provide free scores to help those who might be at risk of losing their security clearance. It's the same scores found on myFICO.
Unitus Community Credit Union - Beacon 5.0 - FREE - Unitus also offers a free monthly EQ FICO score to their members. In order to use this benefit, you must have a checking account, using e-statements, and also a credit account like a CC or loan. Added 2/24/2012
M&T Bank - Beacon 5.0 - $2.99/mo - M&T Bank offers a monthly EQ FICO for those who have a checking account and use their web banking service. It's provided on a monthly basis and also includes factors that impact your FICO score.
Equifax Score Power report w/ EQ FICO score - Beacon 5.0 - $19.95/one-time - Along with the 3-in-1 mention above, you can still purchase your full EQ report and they'll also provide you a FICO score. If you order your free annual credit report EQ report, and opt for a score, it isn't a FICO score. It's their FAKO. Updated 2/24/2012
The Jury is Out on these -
Educators Credit Union (WI) - offers a free report and score review with the same program name as Partners First above. Called this CU at their main number on 4/19/2011 and a rep mentioned they pull TU for this service and will go over your report with you and your score as well, and when pressed to confirm if it was a FICO score, the rep only responded that the score was from TU. Updated 2/24/2012
KSAGCU - unknown EX FICO model - FREE - Kansas Air Guard Credit Union advertises on their website that they will pull your Experian credit report and your EX FICO score as part of a benefit to membership. Before rushing out though, membership is very limited and confined to those who are/were on base (Forbes Field). Updated 2/24/2012
04-16-2010 05:38 PM
Me five ... Thanks for your time!!
04-17-2010 01:45 PM
IMO, I would like to see it be a sticky Wonderful Job llecs,.
Oh and thank you for showing me how spoilers can be used.
04-17-2010 08:04 PM - edited 04-17-2010 08:08 PM
Wow! Sensational summary!
I would only add to this thread a reminder that all consumers are entitled, under the FCRA, to one free credit report at least once annually.
To comply with this requirement, the three CRAs established the site annualcreditreport.com. It is a totally non-commercial site. That means free. I would put that advisement at the head of any "sticky" on this thread.
It does not provide free credit scores, but has links to the CRAs should you be so tempted.
Credit reports presented under annualcreditreport.com are meant to comply with the full disclosure requriements of the FCRA, and thus are the most complete credit reports that I have ever received.
So, I suggest that any consumer beginning a credit repair process take the first step of ordering their credit report from annualcreditreport.com.
Seek commercial credit scores after first reviewing, and correcting, information freely available in your CR.
04-17-2010 08:17 PM - edited 04-17-2010 08:21 PM
CITI Identity Monitoring does not provide monthly access to your CR. It is at best quarterly, and only after they first advise you, after logon, that you have a new CR that you can access. They provide it when they are ready, and it is definately not monthlly. Credit alerts are more infreqent and complete than advertised.
My feedback is given based on three years of peronal subsiption to this service.