There are a lot of online scams out there, many of which involve your credit report. Some of these are malicious, created solely for the purpose of gaining your personal information and potentially defrauding you. Other sites that people may consider scams include services with hidden fees, like the ones with hard-to-find fine print.

First and foremost, you should never enter personal information online until you know for sure that the service you are signing up for is legitimate. Thus, if you're interested in signing up for a credit monitoring service, here are a couple of ways to weed out the good services from the scams:

1. Google the company. This may sound like a no-brainer, but something as simple as entering the service's name into your search engine can be a quick save from a scam. If you find a large number of search results that include negative reviews and complaints from previous customers, that's a big warning sign that you probably shouldn't sign up or the service.

2. Read the reviews. Obviously, we at NextAdvisor are big fans of reviews. We review the top credit monitoring services, like 5 out of 5 star rated Identity Guard, and even some that many consider to be scams, like 2 out of 5 star rated FreeCreditReport.com. We signed up for and researched all of these services, so take a look at our reviews and see for yourself which companies are legitimate or not.

3. Check the BBB rating. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a great resource that consumers can use to check whether companies or charities are trustworthy or not. At BBB.org you can check companies' BBB rating, read prior complaints against the company and more. If the service you are considering has a low rating like D or F, then it's safe to say you should stop and look for another service.

4. Read their terms and conditions. Once you've gone through the above steps and made sure the company is legitimate, it is always a best practice to read, or at least skim, through the site's fine print. This may seem tedious but here is where you may find any hidden fees. Make sure you know exactly what you're signing up for and what you're paying for. Be aware of any free trial requirements and mind the trial dates.

If you just want your free annual credit report without a free trial for ongoing credit report monitoring, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com and get a free Equifax, Experian and Transunion credit report every 12 months. We recommend signing up for a credit report monitoring service because they monitor your credit reports daily and alert you of any changes, help protect you from identity theft, and of course, you will receive frequent credit score updates from the top services. Read full reviews, compare services side-by-side and sign up for free trials by visiting our credit report monitoring comparison page.

Credit Report Monitoring, Identity Theft Protection