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Is a credit monitoring service worth the money?

You can log onto a site like creditkarma.com

You can log onto a site like creditkarma.com or freecreditreport.com and check on your credit for free. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/airdone

It seems like every other week there’s another data breach. Is it a matter of time before someone steals your financial information? The possibility is real, and perhaps you’re wondering whether you should get a credit monitoring service like LifeLock or Identity Guard. They typically cost $25 to $30 a month. Would it be money well spent?

Maybe. Figure out what you can do yourself and what someone can do for you for free before shelling out cash.

How to do it yourself

Monitor your own credit. Log onto a site like creditkarma.com or freecreditreport.com. It won’t cost you anything to access your open accounts, and other pertinent credit information says Joseph McClelland, an attorney from Decatur, Georgia, who litigates against credit bureaus.

Check to make sure no one opened a new account in your name and that there is no fraudulent activity or errors in your credit report.

“Flag anything that’s not right and report the errors. This takes less than five minutes,” says McClelland.

Tap other free sources. Many major banks, through credit cards, offer complimentary credit monitoring. Find out what your credit card issuer provides.

“With your credit card and Creditkarma you’re covered, why pay?” says Rick Orford, author of The Financially Independent Millennial.

When paying makes sense

Know what you’re getting. A variety of services are offered – like notification of data breaches, or a summary of the data on your credit report, explains Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax & Consulting in Rockville Centre.

They can’t prevent identity theft, he says. When is it ideal to use a service? “If you’ve already been a victim of identity theft or fraud.”

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