One of the latest products launched by Equifax is the Equifax Complete™ Family Plan, which monitors the credit report for all the members of your family. (Disclosure: I was provided with a code that allows me access to the Family Plan — which costs $29.95 per month — for a year)
After trying it out, I can see how a family can benefit from this service. However, it is worth noting that it is possible to monitor your own credit situation for less – as long as you don’t mind taking the time necessary.
First of all, the Equifax Complete™ Family Plan is easy to use, and provides you with access to information about your credit report in a format that helps you visualize your situation. You can add your spouse and even up to four children to the plan. You can view each profile (although your spouse has to accept an invitation separately to be added to the plan), and you can receive credit alerts for each profile as well.
Your credit information, including information from all three major credit bureau reports, is displayed in an easy-to-see manner so that you can view your credit score from each bureau, as well as see how many of each type of account (installment loans, revolving credit, etc.) you have.
One of the features I do like about the Family Plan is that it creates an Equifax credit file for each child on the plan – and then locks it. Child identity theft is a growing problem. Thieves can use your child’s Social Security number to open an account, but you might not find out about it until your child comes of age and applies for his or her first credit card or auto loan. Automatically locking your child’s credit file makes it very difficult for his or her identity to be stolen.
Another thing I like about the Family Plan is the Lost Wallet feature. If your wallet is lost or stolen, you can use this feature to quickly assess the damage, and take action to cancel card numbers. The Lost Wallet service can even complete many of the necessary tasks for recovering or canceling the information on your behalf.
The Family Plan is a complete credit-monitoring product that helps you manage the credit profiles of everyone in your family. You receive alerts anytime new information appears in your credit reports, and Equifax scans the Internet for your personal information and alerts you if it is found on suspicious websites (providing you with warning that someone may be using or selling your information).
While you do have access to your Equifax information 24/7, and access to key changes in any of your major credit profiles, access to full credit scores and profiles from the other bureaus are only available once every 12 months.
The $29.95 per month price reflects a savings over what you would pay for enrolling two adults in the Equifax Complete Premier plan, and includes monitoring the child profiles. However, realize that you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the bureaus once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com, as well as a free report from the information-providing bureau when you are denied credit. Additionally, the actions you can undertake when your wallet is lost or stolen can be accomplished on your own for free.
What the Family Plan provides is active credit monitoring for your whole family on an on-going basis. It saves you time, while providing peace of mind. It’s true that you can perform all of the actions included on your own, and for possibly less on an annual basis, but it can be time-consuming. If you are interested in 24/7 monitoring for your whole family, and want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have help if your information is compromised, the Family Plan isn’t a bad choice.
Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the co-author of Community 101: How to Grow an Online Community, and the writer behind PlantingMoneySeeds.com.