If you’ve been active with credit, then you should know about the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and Transunion. If you’ve recently looked at your 3-bureau credit report and scores, then you may have noticed that your credit score is different in each bureau. While most of your information will be similar within each credit bureau, sometimes lenders report information to one bureau and not the other, so you might have accounts that show up in Experian but not in Equifax, for example. This is why we always recommend getting your 3-bureau credit report and scores to get a full picture of your credit history.

Some credit report monitoring services, like ProtectMyID.com and TransUnion Credit Monitoring, will monitor your credit report across all three bureaus and alert you of any changes, but will only provide you with a credit report and score from a single bureau. There are better options out there though, like Identity Guard and PrivacyGuard. Identity Guard monitors all three bureaus for any changes to your credit file, plus they will provide you with updated credit reports and scores from Equifax, Experian and Transunion. PrivacyGuard also monitors all three, plus it updates your credit reports and scores every month. If you want to learn more about these services, visit our credit report monitoring comparison page to compare the services side-by-side.

Not only is it good to keep up with your credit report in all three bureaus because it will keep you smart about your credit, but it is also a great way to protect yourself from identity theft. That’s why the top credit monitoring services also double as full-fledged identity theft protection services. If there are changes to your credit report across any of the three bureaus, you will be alerted by email and/or text. On the other hand, if you are only monitoring your TransUnion credit report but someone tries defrauding you by opening an account with a lender that only reports to Experian, this is where you may get into trouble.

Lastly, there may be errors on any one of your credit reports. According to the FTC, almost 52 million Americans have errors on their credit reports. These may be caused by office error or worse, identity fraud. These errors may be hurting your credit score, and in turn, causing you to pay higher interest rates and fees. In order to fix these errors, you must first notice them. And of course, to notice them, you need to stay on top of your credit report across each of the three bureaus. Read this blog post if you’d like to learn more about fixing credit report errors.

To start monitoring your credit, try signing up for a free trial of one of the top credit report monitoring services here.