This New Tool Could Boost Your Credit Score — but There’s a Catch

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A man checks his credit score on his phone while sitting at a desk
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Experian is launching a free new tool in an effort to help some consumers increase their credit scores “instantly,” the credit-reporting company announced this week. But it comes with a big catch.

The online platform — Experian Boost — will become available in early 2019. It effectively allows you to add payments for utility and telecommunications bills to your Experian credit file and thus potentially raise your credit score.

Experian adds:

“Only positive payment histories will be aggregated through the platform and consumers can remove the new data at any time.”

If you’re interested in learning more about or registering for early access to this new tool, check out Experian’s webpage for it.

Those who sign up also will be able to see their FICO credit score and Experian credit report for free immediately, Experian says. They will also be notified when Experian Boost launches.

The catch

Consumers planning to use the new tool must first “grant permission for Experian Boost to connect to their online bank accounts to identify and access utility and telecommunications payments,” Experian says.

This raises privacy and security concerns. For example, Experian’s announcement does not specify what kind of information Experian or Finicity — the company that compiles the payment histories you want to add to your credit file — would gather about your bank account transactions.

So, it’s currently unclear what personal financial information you would be handing over to these companies, or what they would do with it if you allow Experian Boost to access your bank account.

As of Tuesday — the day of Experian’s announcement — the company’s privacy policy did not mention Boost. In fact, the policy stated that it was last updated on Oct. 15.

Additionally, your credit score won’t necessarily improve if you use Experian Boost.

It’s aimed at consumers with subprime credit scores. According to Experian, folks with thin credit files and credit scores of 580 to 669 will benefit the most from using the tool.

That score range is considered “fair,” according to an unrelated Experian blog post that also describes the range as below-average.

Before you sign up for Experian Boost, make sure to weigh the pros and cons — and check out “Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 Moves.”

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