My first try is Equifax 3 in 1 monitoring along with score watch for $25/month. The Equifax solution started off cool, it gave me my score, each account in my history and ok explanations. After 6 months of paying $25/month I will tell you it has $0 in value. The only things that worked are available from my annual free credit report or other free sources like my credit card page. The ‘features’ that were supposed to work do not, but function fine for free services like mint.com. It took a little digging, but you can find all this information elsewhere and get mobile monitoring free.
Equifax=fail (did I just ask to have my credit struck by lightning?)
Hopefully this is a bug report for Equifax. I’ll go tab by tab on why I feel I threw away $150 on credit reporting to test them out.
Starting on the tabs – Credit watch – alerts
Repeated attempts to set my phone up to recieve alerts fail. Screenshot:
I have resent the message more than 5 times in the last 24 hours. It isn’t that hard to automate SMS to ATT. Mint does it. Pingdom does it. It works. I’m using those services today. The main point of monitoring credit is to be able to take immediate action to fight some idiot in Nigeria who got my card number.
More information in Credit watch – It shows Open accounts
Mortgage, installment, revolving, other, total. I have 4. Not hard to track.
For each it tells you a very inaccurate Balance, Available, Credit Limit, Debt to credit ratio, Monthly Payment Amount, Accounts with a balance.
Ok so if I go on to my American Express, Visa and MC sites I have accurate information. The Equifax information for Balance, Available, Credit limit. Ratio, Monthly payment amount = WRONG. I updated last night and it is still wrong. I updated this morning, -it says today’s date on the “equifax credit report as of 9/26/2009 banner. If I go in to the details, more data that is either really old or just pulled out of thier e-butt. THis just doesn’t match up at all with what is going on in my banking world.
Then we move on to the score watch tab. This is what had me hooked at the beginning. #1 feature!! A chart that shows the change in my score over time. It starts in Feb, Ends today. There are 5 data points all in Feb-May. Now I know there has been activity in my credit that should generate some June, July, August, September data points. Nothing. This thing has been useless except to show me that getting a new credit card does indeed drop your credit score quite a bit for several months. That is with 5 dots. Not much help. Remember – a credit card addition = drop in your credit score.
If this thing showed me more data points, if it didn’t feel like Equifax was intentionally hiding credit information from me, I would pay for this stupid chart. Hell I would pay for an app to keep it as my blackberry background. But they don’t update it for you out of their own database. Something is diabolically wrong. Does Lex Luther run the big 3?
Credit Report Tab
Inaccurate information about the balance I am carrying. It has a lame ass chart for Balance Vs Available credit. Free www.mint.com kills them on any useful/accurate information. The interesting stuff is Length of Credit History, and Average Account age, but you can get that in your free credit report or on your credit card site. LAME!
This tab is priceless. It shows my credit report from 2/19/2009 when I signed up. The coders are too stupid to pull the data from the score watch tab in July. So the whole $150 worth of monitoring has been to tell me in 6 months my 2/19 score is the same as when I checked it on 2/19. Neat. It goes on to tell me my lender risk % from 2/19. It is 9/26 so that isn’t so helpful as I have eliminated any traces of debt (using mint.) BTW, my mortgage brokers across the hall at my office say this is complete bullshit. I don’t know who to believe there.
In my report manager tabs, you can see that I have 1 “score power” report remaining for the year. Well that sucks because I should just do 1 free credit report a year and pay 1 time to get one 6 months later. Paying $300 a year to “protect my credit” was a bad idea. The unlimited Equifax credit report is useless and inaccurate. None of the numbers have ever matched my credit card statements.
My goals with credit protection and monitoring:
1. Monitoring alerts to my phone
2. Many data points per month to help figure out exactly what I did to change my score
3. Lowest cost possible.
So far Mint.com is the winner for managing finance. I have custom alerts set up for all accounts. It won’t watch for a new card being opened in my name. But the data it does provide is accurate because it is drawn directly from my cards/banks web pages.
Next try will be Experian or freecreditreport.com. If I can figure out how to cancel the Equifax account. I hate calling people. Anyhow last screenshot is the cancel subscription/change subscription/show i’ve been billed every month for 6 months FAIL. I can’t cancel my account. No options on any menu that I can find allow me to discontinue automatic billing. What a scam. I should report them to my credit bureau.
If the credit bureaus really operate this poorly when you go to buy a house, well crap. Not like we can do much.