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Signing up for free credit monitoring from Experian can help you keep tabs on your credit score and alert you to credit activity that could be a sign of fraud or identity theft.
What Is Credit Monitoring?
Free credit monitoring from Experian is a service that lets you know when certain changes to your Experian credit report occur. It also sends you regular updates on your FICO® Score☉ credit score based on Experian credit data.
To help protect you from fraud, Experian credit monitoring notifies you when the following events take place:
- Credit checks known as hard inquiries: The first step lenders typically take when processing a loan application is to request a credit score and a copy of your credit report to evaluate your creditworthiness. If you receive an alert about a hard inquiry that isn't connected to an application you've made, it could indicate a criminal is seeking credit in your name.
- New accounts: If a new loan or credit card account is opened in your name, Experian will alert you right away. The sooner you spot a fraudulent account opened in your name, the sooner you can take action.
You don't need to worry about these credit monitoring alerts as long as they're connected to your normal credit activities—applying for and opening a new credit card account, for example. But if you receive an alert about an action you're not aware of, it could be a sign of criminal activity, and you should contact the lender in question right away.
Experian credit monitoring also alerts you to the following circumstances that can lower your credit score:
- High credit card balances: Carrying a credit card balance that exceeds about 30% of the card's borrowing limit can hurt your FICO® Score and VantageScore® credit scores.
- Missed payments: A history of on-time payments is the most significant contributor to healthy credit scores, and even one missed payment can cause significant score reductions. If you forgot to make a payment or a payment you made wasn't processed correctly, this gives you a chance to rectify the issue. More rarely, an alert can flag a missed payment on an account you didn't know existed, opened in your name by an identity thief.
Credit Monitoring Helps You Help Yourself
Credit monitoring can make you aware of issues with your credit files, but it's still important for you to protect yourself. An alert about unauthorized credit activity, for example, will give you the heads-up to notify the lender in question that your personal information has been stolen or misused. You may also need to file disputes with the credit bureaus to get fraudulent information removed as quickly as possible.
Similarly, if you learn that your personal information (especially your Social Security number) has been stolen or exposed in a data breach, you might be wise to add a fraud alert to your credit files or to apply a credit lock.
Once you sign up for the service, it's important to remember that credit monitoring is effective at helping you detect unauthorized credit activity in your name, but it won't alert you to fraud that doesn't impact your credit report. In addition to credit monitoring, you should do the following to maintain your credit security:
- Guard your passwords and personal data from phishing scams.
- Respond to notifications of data breaches that might expose your personal information by changing passwords and card numbers as appropriate.
- Monitor your bank accounts for unexpected or unauthorized transactions.
- Take action as appropriate to improve your credit score or maintain an excellent credit score.
How to Get Free Credit Monitoring
You can sign up for free credit monitoring from Experian in just a few minutes, with no credit card required. You can begin receiving updates right away, including:
- Monthly credit reports: Review your credit file for any unexpected changes and to ensure that payment information is being reported accurately.
- Account balance updates: Monitor your spending with regular updates on your credit card and loan balances.
- Credit score tracking: Review changes in your FICO® Score to help build and maintain a solid credit profile.
- Real-time alerts: Customizable alerts can inform you when credit checks are requested, when new credit accounts are opened in your name and when your card balances exceed certain percentages of their borrowing limits. These behaviors could hurt your credit scores.
- Access to Experian Boost®ø: This optional program lets you apply your history of cellphone, utility and other payments toward your Experian credit score. For many who use it, especially those with limited credit histories, getting credit for these payments can lead to an increase in credit scores based on Experian credit data.
- Online credit report disputes: Request corrections to inaccurate entries in your Experian credit report via an online tool.
Why Should You Monitor Your Credit?
Keeping vigilant about the activity on your credit file—both your own and that of potential criminals—is a wise habit to adopt. Knowing your credit account status and tracking your credit score can help you work toward a more solid credit profile—and that in turn can save you money by helping you qualify for loans and credit cards with lower interest rates.
Free credit monitoring from Experian helps you keep on top of your credit activity by making the process automatic. It actively notifies you about potentially illegal activity on your credit file so you can act quickly to address the issue.
Credit Monitoring Does Not Impact Your Credit Score
When lenders request your credit report and credit score, the resulting hard inquiries are logged on your credit report and typically cause a decrease in credit score. But checking your own credit report or credit score, either manually or automatically through Experian's credit monitoring service, has no effect on your credit score at all since it's recorded as a soft inquiry.
Free credit monitoring from Experian is a helpful tool for tracking your own credit activity and progress toward credit score improvement—and it can also provide valuable early warnings of credit fraud and identity theft.