Why aren’t credit scores free?
If the reason you clicked on this article was because you wanted a free credit score, you’re done. Click here or visit the sites of one of the companies above.
Perhaps you’ve wondered how some company you’ve never heard of can take your personal credit information, use a secret formula to boil it down into one number, use that number to influence your life in truly radical ways, and then charge you to see it.
I’ve been wondering that for years — so have lots of other consumer advocates.
Here’s a cut-and-paste from a time long ago when I answered a similar question:
While you can get your credit report from annualcreditreport.com, you can’t get your credit score there. In fact, if you want to get the most widely used credit score from the company that created it, Fair Isaac, they’ll charge you $19.95 to see it. And that’s after being forced to wade through a quagmire of up-sells.
Since your credit score is obviously super-important, and is derived from your personal credit history, you may feel justifiably confused by why you should have to pay 20 bucks to see it. The explanation for that I can summarize with one word: lobbying. The financial services lobby in this country is one of the most powerful. To get a fair shake for consumers in virtually anything has always been an uphill battle. In the case of getting a free look at your credit report, for example, it took years. In the case of being able to see your credit score, it hasn’t happened yet.
The financial reform law that Congress passed in 2010 (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) came close to fixing this injustice. Annual free credit scores were actually written into one version of the bill, but Republican members of the Senate had this provision removed.
How could they possibly have been persuaded to delete something of obvious benefit to virtually every U.S. citizen? That’s a question for them. My strong suspicion, however, is that the senators in question were more interested in protecting their campaign contributions than their constituents.
In any case, the final version of financial reform legislation only allowed consumers who were denied a loan or suffering some other sort of “adverse action” to get a free look at their credit score. Other “adverse actions” that can result in a free look at your credit score include an increase in your cost of insurance, being charged more for, or being denied, a car lease, or if the interest rate you’re offered on a credit card or loan is higher than one being offered for those with excellent credit.
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I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate. If you’ve got some time to kill, you can learn more about me here.
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