No Wonder. I’m always surprised again at the number of people that confuse between “free government credit report” to “government free credit score“.
According to the FACT Act, which regulates the credit reporting industry, you are entitled to a free copy or your credit report every 12 months. This does NOT include a free credit score. Although your credit score must be provided to you upon request – this service is not free. Many companies offer paid credit scores or credit score monitoring services to customers, including each of the three major credit bureaus.
Free Credit Scores Watch-Outs
If you Google “free credit score” you will get many results with companies that offer customers “free credit scores” and credit monitoring services. Don’t fall for them. Credit scores are never free.
- At most – you’ll get a 7 or 10 days free trial, but you won’t be able to enroll without supplying them your credit card details. Then you will be charged for services you didn’t even know you ordered, just because you’ve accidently clicked on a link in their website. Not to mention the $15 – $25 reoccurring fee because you forgot to cancel the “free” service.
- The scores provided by these sites are not real FICO scores. They are called FAKKO Scores, and are practically useless.
So are there goods alternative to a free annual credit score?
There are some good alternatives out there, but before exploring the options, you need to understand that there’s absolutely no need for you to know your exact score!
How so? Because the score you can get (free or paid) – is not the score your lenders and creditors see, and is therefore useless. Consumers can see only a generic version of FICO called “Standard FICO”, while the scores your creditors and lenders see are especially adapted to their purposes:
- Mortgage lender use a special FICO score version called “Factual”, which only they can see.
- Car dealers also have their own private version of FICO called “Auto Enhanced”, which only they can see.
It’s not uncommon for those 3 scores to be off by as much as 100-points! So even if you pay to get your “real” FICO, it will be different from what your creditor sees, and is therefore useless (See Understanding Fico Scores for more information).
Having that said, you should be interested in your score, but only for informational/educational purposes. What should be more important to you is to know your score range, and how you compare to other consumers.
There are a few good alternatives to free annual credit score:
- Banks, credit card companies and even mortgage lenders give away free credit scores.
- Sites like Credit Karma, Credit Seasm and Quizzle give away free FICO scores (or FAKKO scores as you already understand) without you having to give away your credit card details.
- myFico.com and this site provide Free FICO Estimator that is also good to experiment with different credit scenarios.
See Free FICO Credit Score for a detailed list and links to these truly free services.