Do you know your credit score? You should if you want to protect yourself from identity theft. Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it for unsavory purposes, e.g. filing a tax return in your name or opening a new credit card account with your financial information. Statistics show that 1 in 10 consumers have already experienced identity theft so it is important to keep a close eye on your credit score and review it as often as possible. A free annual credit report is available from the government at AnnualCreditReport.com or you can obtain one from credit repair and monitoring services such as CreditRepair.com, MyFreeScoreNow.com and CreditReport.com.
CreditReport.com was founded in 1995 and falls under the umbrella of Experian, one of the three major national credit bureaus. CreditReport.com provides credit monitoring services and other credit-related information to help consumers keep track of their credit score and maintain a clean credit rating. This video shows how it works:
Unlike the government site, CreditReport.com does not provide free credit reports but they do offer a deal that’s almost free – for $1 you get a credit report and a free Credit Score (from Experian). But there’s a catch - you must you sign up for their credit monitoring membership, which is free for the first 7 days (you can cancel at any time) after which time the membership fee is $19.95 a month. Here’s what you get with membership:
- Access to your $1 Experian Credit Report and Credit Score online for 30 days.
- Analysis of your credit history.
- Daily Credit Monitoring and Alerts – monitoring begins within 48 hours of enrollment in the trial membership.
- Bi-Monthly Score Monitoring and Alerts – via email and/or text messages.
- Fraud Resolution Support.
- $50,000 Product Guarantee*
(*Due to New York state law restrictions, the CreditReport.com Guarantee cannot be offered to residents of New York).
To cancel membership you must call the Customer Care department at 1-877-297-7790.
CreditReport.com also offers CardSafe, which is a credit card registry service that helps the consumer with loss recovery if their wallet or purse is stolen. The consumer does not have to call all their credit card companies to report theft - CreditReport.com will do it for them. CardSafe costs $39.95 for an annual membership (this fee is non-refundable).
Another service from CreditReport.com is ChildSecureSM – an identity monitoring service for children that reviews the Experian credit database and alerts you if your children’s personal information is used for identity theft.
The Bottom Line
CreditReport.com does not provide credit repair services but their website contains a lot of useful information on credit scores and why they matter, as well as how significant purchases (e.g., buying a home or a boat) can affect your credit outlook. CreditReport.com focuses mainly on monitoring your credit report to help reduce damage from identity theft and they state in their FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) section that the consumer is responsible for investigating inaccurate items on their credit report.
Also note that CreditReport.com relies only on the Experian credit database to pull information, so if any inaccurate items appear on your credit report at TransUnion or Equifax (the other two national credit bureaus) you may not find out about them until it’s too late.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, MyFreeScoreNow.com also offers a 7 day free trial membership to their credit monitoring service when you order a free credit score and online score report on their website. You can cancel anytime within the trial period - after the trial is over the membership fee is $29.95 a month.
In addition, MyFreeScoreNow.com gives a $50 restaurant dining certificate to members in good standing after each month of their paid membership (other restrictions may apply).
MyFreeScoreNow.com selects a credit score from only one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion). However, they do recommend that consumers get a 3-way credit score for a more complete credit review. The MyFreeScoreNow.com membership program offers the following:
- Today’s credit score and report.
- A personalized report of factors affecting your credit score.
- Email alerts of significant changes to your credit report – e.g., new inquiries, new accounts in your name, bankruptcies, etc.
- An updated credit score each month.
- Notice of who is looking at your credit.
If you sign up with MyFreeScoreNow.com, you can view your credit score online and you have access to it for 30 days (you can order a new report at any time for a nominal fee). To cancel membership you must call the Customer Care Center at 1-888-548-2008 or send a letter via US Mail to the physical location in Thousand Oaks, CA.
The Fine Print
There are a large number of detailed articles on the MyFreeScoreNow.com website about credit scores, credit monitoring, and identity theft but the company does not claim to repair credit. TInstead, they suggest the consumer should contact the three national credit bureaus to dispute inaccurate information. The necessary contact information is listed in the FAQs section.
Also note that MyFreeScoreNow.com does not make it clear that their website is not the government site where a free credit report is available. This can be confusing to consumers who are only interested in the free credit report and do not want to sign up for credit monitoring. However, the MyFreeScoreNow.com website has tons of information on credit issues and identity theft so it is worth a visit.
CreditRepair.com, located in Plantation, FL, has been in business for 15 years. They employ Credit Repair Experts to help consumers identify potential problems on their credit reports that could affect the consumers' credit risk rating. CreditRepair.com has partnered with TransUnion and Equifax for credit score information and they directly interact with these credit bureaus on behalf of their customers. Here’s a video of how their service works:
The CreditRepair.com membership program costs $89.95 per month, plus a one-time charge of $12.99 to obtain your credit reports. The service includes the following:
- A personal online dashboard- view your account and credit repair progress 24 hours a day.
- Dedicated member advisors to help you navigate through the credit repair process.
- A monthly online credit score analysis - providing tools and information to continually improve your credit.
- Identity theft insurance.
- Updated credit reports on a monthly basis.
- An updated credit score every 90 days.
- Mobile apps and customizable text alerts.
If you’re not sure about signing up for the plan you can call 1-855-255-0263 for a free credit repair consultation. The CreditRepair.com process works in three steps:
- Check – your credit report is obtained and specific items are identified for review.
- Challenge – they interact with the credit bureaus to challenge/question specific items and to make change requests if applicable.
- Change – tools to help you keep track of credit improvements.
CreditRepair.com has numerous testimonials on its website from customers who have benefited from their services. Here are some reviews:
"After working with CreditRepair.com I feel much better. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder, I feel like I lost 10lbs! There's a light at the end of the tunnel and they're going to help me rectify the situation once and for all."
- LeeAnn, NY
"I feel like CreditRepair.com will help me out a lot. I'll be happy when things get fixed so if something bad were to happen or I needed to get credit, I won't have to worry about any problems."
- Clay, TX
The Bottom Line
CreditRepair.com does state that although past members have seen over 20% of their questionable credit report negative items removed in 90 days, results will vary.
Also, CreditRepair.com does not offer debt settlement services but they do provide useful content on their website about how to fix bad credit. They also inform consumers about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which states that a consumer has the right to cancel a contract with any credit repair organization for any reason within 3 business days from the date they signed it.