Check Credit Score for Free: Are they scamming You?
You see them all the time yet you probably think they are a scam. Do the sites, and even tv commercials that claim to offer you the ability to check your credit score for free really mean it. Are they just a scam or some kind of marketing ploy to get you to buy something later.
The answer is a little of both. So first off let me talk about the free score part. Can you get your score for free? Yes, well sort of. In fact because of government regulation of the credit industry and in particular the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Credit Reporting agencies are required to give you a free copy of your report at a minimum of once every twelve months. Here is the thing, you have to ask for it and notice above I said sort of. What they are required to give you is actually a report.
Whats the difference between a credit report and credit score
Well, the report is actually the information gathered over time about your credit history. It really doesn't have a number associated with it. The number you get or letter grade sometimes is what people refer to as their score. Your score is basically a number that is given that represents an easy to read view of your credit report.
Why the score matters
Your score matters because typically it is what most creditors quickly glance at (or their computers do) to give you a yes or no. If you don't meet their minimum score criteria then you don't qualify period. If you do meet their minimum score requirements, then they might go a little further and actually look through your report to see if anything stands out that would disqualify you from getting credit, or a loan through them.
If you do go and get your credit report pulled, it might have a score attached and it might not. If you get your free report directly from the bureaus it most likely won't. If it does it the score might be different than what your lender gets when they pull your credit score. ---What the heck --- Thats right, not only is there different reporting agencies, there are different scores.
What do you mean different scores!
So, now you have 3 main credit agencies that report your credit. They are Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.. There are more but those are the most likely ones that you will deal with. Each of these reporting agencies Keep your history in a file and send it out. Each of these agencies might also have different information than the other. So when you do check your files for free :) make sure they are correct.
The score that gets sent out is actually also different, its an algorithm that spits out a number for your creditors. Guess what? Each company might use a different algorithm as well. This algorithm gives certain weight to items on your report. Items such as late pays, high balances etc are all given different values. Once combined they shoot out your credit score. You have probably heard of fico. Its an algorithm but in many cases its also used to refer to your mid score. That is your middle score out of the main three. Very Very confusing.
How do I get the free report
So to get your free report you can do it several ways. I seriously can't give you all of them. So many sites will offer you to get your report for free. But to get your report direct from the main three you can go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com which is sponsored by all three agencies. You will not (at least last I checked) get your score. It will be your report. Check it over and see if there are things wrong. You will then be given the opportunity to purchase your scores.
This is where you can get really messed up. Some places are scams most are just businesses though that will be giving you a cheap or free score to try to upsell you later. That is where you need to watch out. Sometimes if you aren't careful they will bill you when you thought you cancelled. It stuff like that, the ole sign up if you don't keep the service you can cancel. But you forget and then get billed.
Also something to remember is that depending on how you purchase and where you purchase, your scores could be different than you mortgage brokers or other lending institution. They will be most likely pulling fico scores which you can pull from each agency for a hefty price. But you can get a cheap or free report by looking through google. The free reports or the low cost ones will give you a fairly good idea. Note: Sometimes they are way off. I have had great luck with the creditXpert algorithm which is often given by credit repair companies. I will talk about the credit repair company I have used in another post. They helped my score tremendously. (you can do the work yourself for free and Ill explain but I didn't want to bother).
How to keep up on it -- Credit Monitoring
For now I also use privacy guard not and affiliate, calm down (this is just credit monitoring - I use someone else for the disputes--)which is at https://www.privacyguard.com They are very inexpensive monthly. I think like ten bucks. But their credit xpert algorithm has always been fairly close to my mortgage brokers credit pulls. They also allow me to track the scores as I go, and give me all three scores every few months. Plus they monitor for changes and give a pretty cool tool that lets you see what would happen if you did certain things like paid off a credit card or payed collections etc.
In short, I typically blog about getting by without using your credit. That doesn't mean I don't think fixing your credit or at least checking your scores isn't important. You can do a lot without having money or credit but it really is much easier if you have it. I am currently working on a deal that I don't think I could have done (at least not without a huge hassle) because I have my credit back in shape. It will be on of the case studies once it goes through but it is an owner occupied deal and conventional financing made the most sense. So if you can see your scores and fix your scores go for it. But don't let bad credit or lack of money stop you from moving onto a business that will make your life better.