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Updated on Monday, January 4, 2016
myFICO is a company predominantly known for its credit monitoring services, as well as providing knowledge to consumers on credit scores. It also offers identity monitoring services in conjunction with credit monitoring, all in one package. However, the service is on the pricey side, so let’s review what you get for your money, and compare the value to other identity theft protection services out there.
Overview of myFICO’s Identity and Credit Monitoring Service
myFICO offers two tiers of service: the “Essentials 1B” plan which monitors your Equifax score only (and doesn’t have as many identity theft features), and an “Ultimate” plan that monitors your personal information and all three of your credit scores.
Both offer 24/7 identity restoration service, but since the Essentials 1B plan doesn’t cover the other two bureaus, it’s not the best solution. For the purpose of this review, we’ll be covering the Ultimate plan.
Credit Monitoring Service
Did you know you technically have more than one credit score, as measured by the three bureaus? With the Ultimate plan, you get access to 19 FICO scores used in a variety of situations. This allows you to see which score is most likely to be used if you apply for an auto loan, a mortgage loan, or a credit card.
Of course, you’ll also get access to your FICO Score 8, the score most widely used by lenders. The Ultimate plan will also provide you with a detailed analysis of your score so you know where your weak and strong spots are. When a change occurs to your score, you’ll receive a notification along with a reason why.
myFICO gives you an updated credit report from all three bureaus quarterly, too. Your credit scores are updated any time a change occurs. If there are no changes, your score won’t update.
An interesting feature for those looking to make progress with their credit score is the FICO Score Simulator provided with the plan. You can see how taking a certain action (such as making a debt payment) will affect your score.
Identity Theft Monitoring Service
myFICO offers a basic identity theft monitoring service. It will monitor the black market for any mention of your personal information, as well as monitor your Social Security number for identity fraud.
Like other providers, it offers lost wallet protection. A certified specialist will assist you in canceling and replacing missing items or documents from your wallet, including credit cards, debit cards, and your license.
The biggest thing you’re paying for is the 24/7 identity restoration service, which gives you access to a certified restoration specialist who will stick with you until your identity is fully restored to its previous status.
How valuable is such a service? Restoring your identity can prove to be a very time consuming process. In severe cases, it could take months, and possibly a trip to court, to reverse the damage done by a thief. Having the assistance of an expert to handle filing paperwork and calling the appropriate institutions could help you out and cut down on the time you spend dealing with the fiasco.
How Does Identity Theft Insurance Work?
myFICO offers $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance. You can read the specifics about what is and isn’t included in its policy here, but in short, the purpose of this identity theft insurance is to reimburse any costs you incur during the restoration process.
For example, it will cover the cost of replacing documents, travel expenses, lost wages, childcare, and legal costs, for a total of $1,000,000. myFICO will also hire experts on your behalf (such as a lawyer) if needed. Each cost has a specific limit. For example, it will only cover up to $2,000 for replacing documents.
The insurance will cover up to $10,000 in fraudulent withdrawals or unauthorized electric funds transfers, but not $1,000,000 in stolen funds. That’s a big difference you need to be aware of, as many people are under the impression the insurance is used to insure your assets against theft. That’s not true.
As restoring your identity can be time consuming and costly, the insurance can give you peace of mind in case you end up having to go to court to fight a creditor or have to deal with the IRS because someone claimed your tax return before you had a chance.
Note that this coverage isn’t available to residents of New York.
How myFICO’s Identity Theft Protection Service Works
When you sign up for the identity monitoring service, myFICO will have you answer a series of questions to verify your identity. Once that’s complete, it will scan its database for any mention of your personal information and give you a report at the end. This report serves as a baseline for how safe your information has been, and allows you to take care of any issues that may be present.
myFICO will continue to monitor your information and will notify you via email, text, or mobile app (available on Android and iOS) whenever it detects suspicious fraudulent activity, or a change in any of your credit reports.
It’s worth reading the fine print to see exactly when you can expect such updates to occur, as they vary based on credit bureau. You can see the fine print on this page, as well as what changes you’ll be alerted to. Here are a few instances when you’ll receive an alert:
- Whenever a new account is opened
- Credit inquiries from applications
- New public record listings (bankruptcy, tax liens, etc.)
- New address
- Fraud alert placed on file (not available for Equifax)
There are quite a few alerts only available with certain bureaus, but the most important changes are covered by all three.
How Much Does it Cost?
The FICO Ultimate 3B plan that includes identity and credit monitoring is $29.95 per month, or $329 per year ($27.42 per month).
The FICO Essentials 1B plan will monitor just your Equifax score and is $19.95 per month, or $219 per year ($18.25 per month). You still get access to the identity restoration services, but it’s not as comprehensive.
myFICO seeks to educate consumers on credit scores and doesn’t claim to prevent identity fraud. It doesn’t make many claims about its identity monitoring service at all, as the emphasis is on its credit monitoring service.
If you’re not a fan of automatic renewals, you should know myFICO sets your subscription to automatically renew every month. You must cancel (which you can do at any time) to stop your membership from renewing. However, partial monthly refunds aren’t available, so make sure you cancel close to your renewal date to get the most out of your last month.
Additionally, myFICO has a few “fine print” issues involving when credit scores are updated, and when alerts come through. Much of this is dependent upon the credit bureaus, but you should understand how the alerts work and how often your score and reports are updated before paying.
Alternative Credit and Identity Monitoring Services
myFICO is certainly one of the more expensive choices and doesn’t offer a full suite of identity protection services. Its focus is heavily on credit monitoring, which you can get for free by signing up with either Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.
The biggest difference is that myFICO gives you access to your actual FICO score as reported by the bureaus. Credit Karma and Credit Sesame don’t give you your FICO score (Credit Karma uses VantageScore 3.0 provided by TransUnion and Equifax).
Credit Karma gives you a free credit report from TransUnion, and will monitor your TransUnion credit for free as well. You’ll receive email notifications when something changes.
Credit Sesame updates your score on a monthly basis, and updates your credit report profile every other month. You don’t get access to your credit report – just your score.
You can always access your three free credit reports throughout the year by going to annualcreditreport.com.
Lastly, if you have a credit card with one of the major lenders, your credit score may be available for free through your online portal.
If you’re not convinced myFICO is a good value for identity theft protection service, try these two alternatives.
Zander – Identity theft protection services are offered at $6.75 per month for individuals, and $12.90 per month for families. This is much more affordable than myFICO, but Zander doesn’t offer credit monitoring at all. Again, you can get access to that for free elsewhere. Zander will make sure your information isn’t being sold on the black market, and it also offers a comprehensive identity restoration service. Alerts are received via email.
Prosper Daily (formerly BillGuard) – A great solution for those on the go, Prosper Daily is an identity theft protection and credit monitoring service offered in the form of an app. It’s $9.99 per month to get access to its identity restoration service, but along with protecting yourself from fraud, you can also monitor your spending and budget. It’s a good all-in-one solution for those looking to manage their money via mobile.
myFICO might be a good solution for those looking to improve their credit score, or for those in the market for a loan who want to make sure their credit is in perfect condition to score the best rates. However, there are cheaper options out there when it comes to identity theft protection services. Consider pairing one of the above alternatives with a mix of receiving your free credit report each quarter from annualcreditreport.com, and using Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to monitor your credit for a less expensive solution.