Why Signing Up for Experian Alerts Has Backfired on Me

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  • I signed up for credit alerts in an effort to protect myself from fraud.
  • The alerts I get are so frequent and cryptic that they really aren't helpful.

It was supposed to be a move that protected my finances. Instead, it's caused me needless panic.

I can admit that I didn't really check my credit report too frequently until my husband fell victim to fraud. Somehow, someone had managed to open up a line of credit in his name.

Thankfully, my husband was able to resolve the issue (though he decided to freeze his credit for a while for added protection). But for me, that incident served as a wakeup call, and I've been checking my credit report more consistently since.

Another thing I did was sign up for Experian alerts. (If you're not familiar with Experian, it's one of the three major credit bureaus.) That way, I'd get email notifications every time something changed on my credit report or with my credit score.

At first, I was convinced that doing so was a savvy move, and that it would potentially give me peace of mind. But in the end, I regret it -- to the point where I'm ready to unsubscribe.

Why Experian alerts aren't helpful

My logic for signing up for Experian alerts was to get notified if, say, someone attempted to open a credit card or bank account in my name. But Experian tends to alert me every single time there's a change on my credit report. And some of those changes are meaningless.

For example, not long ago, I got a notification that my credit score had decreased. That got me nervous. So I went and took a look, and sure enough, it had dropped -- to 815. That's not a big deal at all considering that 815 is still an excellent credit score to have. But the way that notification was worded initially got me panicked because all it said was "your credit score has decreased" without offering any context whatsoever.

Similarly, I've gotten notices that my credit card balance has increased. Um, yeah, that's apt to happen all the time because I use credit cards regularly. I don't need an alert telling me my $2,400 balance is now at $2,600 because I went grocery shopping.

All told, what I could really use from Experian (or another service) is fraud alerts -- things like, "Hey, we noticed your credit card balance rose $5,000 overnight, what gives?" But because the system is designed to notify you of every tiny little change, it's just not helpful.

A better solution for me

At this point, I have a choice -- I can either start ignoring my Experian alerts or unsubscribe from the service. I'm not sure which I'll do, but from now on, I won't drop what I'm doing to check my credit score or report in response to those notifications.

In fact, I'm leaning toward canceling those alerts altogether and instead just pledging to keep checking my credit report regularly. As it is, I check my credit card balances every week as a means of tracking my spending, so if a suspicious charge hits, I'm apt to see it. But this way, I won't be driven into a needless panic every time something related to my credit activity changes.

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