Most identity theft prevention services and credit monitoring services focus on things an identity thief can do with your Social Security number: Open new credit accounts, get medical attention, file fraudulent taxes, etc.
That’s great. But let’s face it, the thing most people are really worried about is someone getting ahold of their credit card numbers and spending all of their hard earned money! Most identity theft protection and credit monitoring companies DON’T monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts.
Why not? Quite simply, they don’t have access to that information – unless you give it to them. Your bank has strict security measures in place to prevent anyone but you from looking at your accounts.
So how can you proactively monitor your credit card and checking accounts?
The good news is, most banks already offer some type of alert system. My bank sends me an email anytime my debit card is used. This is great, because as you might recall from yesterday’s post, you need to report fraudulent debit card transactions within 2 days of discovering them to limit your liability. My credit card company offers a similar alert system, but it allows me to select a minimum charge to be notified for. I’ve set mine to $1, so I get an email every time the card is used.
The trouble with all of these services is that you have to set them each up manually. That can be a hassle. And not all banks have an alert feature.
If you want a one-stop solution for monitoring all of your bank and credit card accounts, try a service link Mint.com. I love Mint, because it lets me monitor all of my accounts in one place. I just provide it with my online logins for each bank, and it tracks any new charges. There are apps available for just about every mobile device, and you can even set up email alerts.
Some identity theft protection companies offer a similar service, but it’s typically included with their higher-priced plans. While this does offer the convenience of having all your monitoring features in a single place, there are probably better ways to spend your money.