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Various websites offering “free” credit reports eventually hit customers with fees if they are not very careful. Sure, you can find a truly free report out there with some diligence. But a truly free credit score and report may already be available through your credit card issuer.
Some issuers offer credit reports, credit scores, identity-theft protection and various other services bundled into a package for a monthly fee.
The following are some plans that credit card issuers offer.
It’s important to note that in addition to the services we list below, you can also get a free credit report if you are denied credit by a card issuer. This was included in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). When denied credit you will receive instructions on how to claim the free report.
CreditSecure – American Express
American Express’ CreditSecure service offers 2 credit reports and scores every 30 days from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – the top 3 credit bureaus. Also, starting in November of 2011, the program will offer access to up to $1 million in identity-theft protection.
In addition to the mentioned benefits, CreditSecure comes with daily credit monitoring and email alerts of new activity. So, if a scammer 1,000 miles away decides to use your identity to open up 10 new credit card accounts, you’ll be notified as soon as it hits your credit report. There are also plenty of other benefits to your personal finances, so be sure to check this out if you are an American Express cardholder.
Alright, this isn’t going to be free. How much will it cost you?
The CreditSecure service will cost $1 in the first month. So, if you try it out and decide it is not for you, you can cancel it and you’ll be down a dollar. After that, the fee climbs to $14.99, so make sure that you really like this program during the first month so that you don’t get hit with that fee if you decide to cancel it.
Chase Identity Protection
Chase Identity Protection offers 3 tiers of service. Each tier has a different price and level of service.
The Premier tier offers a dedicated fraud specialist to assist you in the event that you become the victim of fraud. This is someone that will help you through the process and aid in dispute resolution. Also, this tier offers credit monitoring of the 3 major credit bureaus and alerts to changes in their reports.
Additionally, Chase will monitor your Chase credit cards for signs of fraud and alert you if anything suspicious comes up.
Monthly credit reports from the 3 major bureaus are offered, but you’ll only get your credit scores once with this program. There are other benefits to this, as well, and you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $7.99 per month to use this service.
The Enhanced tier of Chase Identity Protection offers all of the benefits of the Premier service and more.
It offers monthly credit scores and a credit score estimator that helps predict the impacts that your financial decisions will have on your credit score. It also offers a snapshot of your current risk for identity theft.
In other words, if you a walking target for a scammer, this could help you realize that. There are other benefits to this tier of service as well and it comes at a monthly fee of $11.99.
The Elite tier of Chase Identity Protection offers all of the previously mentioned benefits.
Additionally, it offers Internet surveillance. Sound creepy? Fear not. This means that Chase will monitor the Internet and notify you if your personal information is found on the Internet in insecure locations.
So, if you posted your credit card number on a forum a few weeks ago, Chase could catch this and let you know that you might want to get that removed. However, you probably shouldn’t have done that in the first place!
The Elite tier also offers public records monitoring that monitors new records that have been reported in your name. This tier comes at a fee of $14.99 per month.
These are just samples of credit card programs that offer credit reports, credit scores and credit monitoring services. If you use a different issuer, check with them for any services that they may offer.
If you are looking for just a credit report (no scores), then try AnnualCreditReport.com.
This is the only site authorized by Federal law to give free credit reports, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). However, if you are looking for credit scores and other credit services, then check out the mentioned plans or your issuer’s plans.