When you talk about personal and professional productivity, there’s probably no one factor that’s more important than your finances. Money makes the world go around, and safeguarding your credit record can save you buckets of cash in the long run.
That’s why, back in 2003, the FACT Act established AnnualCreditReport.com, a website that purportedly makes it easy for you to get online once every 12 months and check what the credit card companies are saying about how timely you pay your bills. The system works well enough – but when was the last time you actually used it? If your answer was any variation of the words “I don’t know,” then you might want to take a closer look at Credit Karma.
A credit monitoring app now available across all major platforms including (most recently) Windows Phone, Credit Karma is a no-pay, no-strings service that sends you an SMS alert if there are any major changes in your credit record on a reoccurring basis. Specifically, it looks for activity like inquiries to your credit and recently opened accounts, both of which could tip you off to some nefarious individual who’s on the verge of going on an epic shopping spree in your name.
The app not only makes you aware of things like these so that you can take action, but also sweetens the deal by telling you your credit score so you’ll know where you stand. It goes a step further by providing information on why your credit score is what it is, and even offers suggestions on what you might do to improve it. Free financial advice? We’ll take it.
Granted, you’re not given your actual FICO score. The app also doesn’t poll all three of the major credit bureaus. Instead, Credit Karma works in partnership with TransUnion for your report and VantageScore for the actual score portion. App installation requires you to register with Credit Karma and enter private information that includes your Social Security Number – but that’s par for the course when you’re dealing with all things credit.
The best part about it all is that Credit Karma lets you take advantage of its services for free, though it does have to leverage a handful ad-based partner offers in order to do so. In exchange for their services, you’ll agree to be occasionally hit up by any one of their business partners who want to win you over as a customer. But the good news is that you can choose to opt out of receiving these offers straight out of the gate on the signup page for a hands-down win/win scenario.
If you’ve ever been the victim of identity theft or have ever awakened from a restless sleep in fear that somewhere, someone was filling a virtual basket full of goodies in your name with the intent of leaving you stuck with the bill, it’s probably time to get on board with an early alert system like Credit Karma. It’s available now for free and requires Windows Phone 8.1.