Credit monitoring services, especially those from the credit agencies themselves, leave a bad taste in my mouth. I find it unconscionable that I need to pay to gain access to personal information on me that affects my life at the deepest levels. In our modern society, a good credit rating is as important for our future safety and stability (and sex, to be honest) as a sharp spear and 20/10 vision were to early man. It sucks, but money makes the world go round and we can’t feed Maslow without it (nor can most of us afford homes without good credit).

I started using credit monitoring services long before identity theft was a big issue. Back then, reports were never free and credit scores weren’t in as wide use. I wasn’t paranoid or prescient, I’d just managed to screw my credit up so badly in college that I wanted to know exactly what I needed to clean up. It would probably still be screwed up if it weren’t for online banking; I’m really bad about using the mail.

When free reports were mandated by the government I kept with the monitoring service for two reasons- to gain access to my credit score, and for identity theft monitoring.

And monitoring is not protection- I may be able to detect new activity on my credit report within 1-3 days, but by that time the damage might be done.

Along comes Debix. The government has mandated that credit services allow consumers to place “locks” on their reports. No, this won’t stop the bank from reporting you as late, but it does mean they can’t open a new account tied to your record without explicit permission. Being a bunch of wimps beholden to big money, the government only mandated they lock (place a “fraud alert” on) your record for 90 days.

For the same price (or less) as credit monitoring, Debix will place a lock on your record and renew it automatically every 90 days. They link the lock to their call center, and when a creditor calls to verify that you really want to open the account the call center routes it to up to three numbers you provide. This has the added advantage of keeping your phone number off your record.

(Full disclosure: I was given a free preview, so I didn’t pay for the service. But it’s cheaper than the credit monitoring service I’m dropping).

Pretty cool- kind of like anti-exploitation for identity theft.

They also insure you and provide a few other features. They are a direct competitor of LifeLock, but LifeLock’s been in the news a bunch here in Phoenix for some… irregularities… that make me uncomfortable with the company.

I do like seeing inquiries on my credit report, but I can get that for free on a quarterly basis rather than needing it instantly. Debix is $4/month cheaper than my monitoring was, and blocks unwanted activity.

I like that.