As one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, TransUnion knows a thing or two about credit data. In an increasingly-crowded marketplace of credit monitoring products, that might be something to keep in mind. TransUnion offers premium credit monitoring and an identity theft product, TrueIdentity. The company was generous enough to sponsor content on Money Under 30 so we could tell you about them, but, rest assured, the following analysis is my own.
If you’re not already familiar with credit monitoring products, let me take a moment to emphasize the importance of regularly checking up on your credit score and report.
You and your credit score
For better or worse, your credit report is a critical piece of your identity. Even if you have no plans to borrow money, landlords, insurance companies, and, in some cases, even employers will pass judgment about you based upon the information contained in your credit report. Monitoring your credit data—your credit score, in particular—provides insight into how your use of credit affects your creditworthiness. After a few months of credit monitoring, you’ll notice how your credit score increases as you pay down a credit card—or drops when you miss a payment.
The risk of identity theft
You may be fiscally meticulous—never overextending yourself and paying every bill on time—but you still have to worry about identity theft. I know, you never think it’ll happen to you. I thought that, too, until last winter when I was routinely checking my credit online and noticed an account I didn’t recognize. Turns out, somebody opened a store credit card account in my name at a mall 3,000 miles away and immediately began shopping. I can’t be certain how the thief obtained my personal data, but guess it could have been any of the major data breaches over the past few years that have compromised millions of Americans’ sensitive financial information. So remember: Nobody else is looking out for errors or signs of fraud on your credit report. You have to do it yourself!
TransUnion’s premium credit monitoring products let you stay on top of your credit data, provide peace of mind, and help you understand what causes your credit score to change over time.
Peace of mind
TransUnion credit monitoring gives you unlimited TransUnion credit score and report updates. This is an important distinction from free credit monitoring websites that only let you see updated data every 30 days. TransUnion gives you email updates of critical credit information changes to all three of your credit reports, such as new or closed accounts, late payments, or significant changes to your personal information. In the event someone applies for credit in your name, TransUnion can send you an instant alert so you can take action right away. You can, for instance, freeze your TransUnion credit report instantly with their 1-Touch Credit Lock feature. This prevents the thieves from opening any additional accounts. In the worst case, TransUnion also gives you ID theft resolution guidance and up to $1 million in ID theft insurance.
Credit tracking and education
In addition to regular monitoring and unlimited updates, TransUnion provides educational features to help you better understand the factors impacting your credit. For example, you can use their Score Simulator to explore “what if” scenarios. Using the Score Simulator, you can see what might happen to your credit score if you:
- Pay off an existing credit card
- Apply for a new credit account
- Close an existing credit account
- Pay one account 30 days late
- Make on-time payments to all of your accounts for 12 months
Also, TransUnion’s Score Trending feature gives you an interactive graph of your score history over time. I find this fascinating, as your score may not go up or down consistently over time. My score tends to bounce up and down by a few points depending on the balances on my credit cards at the end of the month. (Even though I pay them off in full each month, in a month of higher spending the ending balances are higher in relation to my combined credit limit, which can drag down my score by 10 to 20 points). Over time, though, I can see the positive effects of an increasingly longer credit history with 100 percent on-time payments. TransUnion also gives you calculators to evaluate your entire financial picture and access to a personalized credit and debt analysis that can identify money-saving opportunities.
What you get
- Unlimited refreshes to your TransUnion score and report
- Instant alerts of critical changes or if someone applies for credit in your name
- 1-Touch Credit Lock to freeze your TransUnion report
- Educational tools including Score Trending and Score Simulator
- Unlimited toll-free access to ID theft specialists and up to $1 million in ID theft insurance.
You can cancel anytime by contacting TransUnion. When you sign-up, your credit monitoring begins immediately, and you’ll also get to access your three-bureau credit reports and scores, a $29.95 value.
You have options when shopping for credit monitoring, but if you’re serious about understanding and protecting your credit, TransUnion is a smart choice. With TransUnion credit monitoring, you’re viewing your data straight from the source. The unlimited updates mean you can check in on your latest credit score 24/7—especially helpful if you’re working toward a credit score target prior to applying for an auto loan or mortgage.
- How Credit Works: Understand Your Credit Report And Score
- How To Improve Your Credit Score, Step-By-Step