Every year I check my credit score twice, once about every 6 months. Since there are 3 US credit bereaus that each must allow citizens to check their credit scores once a year free of charge, I check my score with 2 of the bereaus and leave the last in case I have reason to believe my identity has been compromised. Fortunately, I have never had to “use” my last credit check.
Of course, the question has always been, how would I become suspicious that my identity has been stolen? Without some sort of active monitoring, I’ve believed that my gut would tell me “hey, you probably shouldn’t have used your credit card there,” or “it looks like someone has been in snooping around in your email, better check your credit.” I recently signed up for Credit Karma, and now I won’t have to rely on my gut being right.
Credit Karma provides free credit monitoring with alerts they’ll send you if your credit starts to take a hit. Another plus: you can track your credit over time and see how financial events directly affect your credit score. It reminds me much of Mint transaction tracking in that it tracks your statistics over time and suggests sponsored banking/credit offers. It’s free to use (though you may find the constant barrage of credit card offers an adequate payment for the service). If you’re not already checking your credit at least yearly, you probably should be. Credit Karma would be a good place to start.