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2006: A look back - A look ahead  
  Debit card usage surpassed that of credit cards in 2006 as the industry continues to promote new card programs.
 Credit cards
 Personal finance calendar  Personal finance calendar 

5 ways to monitor your credit reports

5 ways to monitor credit reports (continued)
Credit monitoring services
Advantages Disadvantages
Daily or weekly e-mail alerts report significant changes on your credit report with a particular credit bureau (unless the service monitors all three reports).
Depending on plan, may receive full access to the credit report on file with the agency.
Swift notification of fraudulent credit activity.
Swift notification of new inaccuracies in your reports.
Do not prevent an imposter from obtaining credit in your name.
They are expensive. They can cost anywhere from $50 to nearly $200 for year-round service, depending on the add-ons you choose and how many reports you want to monitor. Compare credit monitoring services at Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Generally, you keep getting billed for the services until you cancel.
Do-it-yourself credit monitoring
Advantages Disadvantages
Checking credit reports annually with each credit bureau costs nothing if obtained through annualcreditreport.com.

After the first request, one report costs around $10 each time or in the $30 range for a compilation of all three reports from the three, major nationwide credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

It's up to the consumer to check credit reports.
Must buy new credit reports after first free one.
Checking too often could end up costing more than paying for credit monitoring.
No e-mail notifications of changes on your credit report.
Might miss timely notifications showing fraudulent activity.
Bank credit monitoring services
Advantages Disadvantages
Convenient, in that the bank manages all the details.
Daily or weekly e-mail alerts report significant changes on your credit report with a particular credit bureau (unless the service monitors all three reports).
Can receive full access to the credit report on file with the credit bureau the bank's service monitors.
Swift awareness of fraudulent credit activity.
Swift awareness of new inaccuracies in your reports.
Cost about as much as credit monitoring services offered by credit bureaus Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Do not prevent an imposter from obtaining credit in your name.
Generally, you keep getting billed for the service until you cancel.
Not available at every bank.
Only available to customers of the respective banks.
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Had success or frustration with fraud alerts, credit monitoring services or credit freezes? Tell us about it.

-- Posted: Nov. 1, 2006
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