We’ve all heard the warnings…if it’s too good to be true then it probably is. And, how about this one…you don’t get something for nothing. But in the world of credit reporting and credit scoring that’s not actually true. There are a lot of free things available if you’ll just look for them and yes, they are too good to be true!
You Won’t Need Your Credit Card For Any Of The Following!
AnnualCreditReport.com – This website was set up pursuant to a 2003 amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It is maintained by the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The site’s purpose is to act as the central source where U.S citizens can request a free copy of their credit reports once every 12 months.
CreditSesame.com – This is a for profit website that gives away a free credit score based on Experian data. The score that is given away is called the Experian National Risk Score, and it ranges from 360 to 840 and it is a very good approximation of your FICO score (at least it always has been for me). The user experience is very clean and easy to understand.
www.optoutprescreen.com – This is another legislatively mandated website that the credit reporting agencies have to make available to consumers. There are no free credit scores or credit reports on this site. Here you can have your name excluded from any prequalified mailing lists sold by the credit bureaus to credit card issuers. You can “opt out” for a few years or permanently. I’ve been opted out for years and I don’t get credit card offers in the mail any longer.
www.CreditKarma.com – This is a for profit website that gives away a free credit score based on TransUnion data. The score that is given away is your VantageScore credit score. I wrote about the new VantageScore credit score here. The VantageScore credit score is the 2nd most commonly used credit bureau based scoring system. We’re all focused on our FICO scores, and rightfully so, but with some 1,300 lenders using the VantageScore credit score (according to Experian) we need to start paying attention to it as well.
www.Credit.com – This is a for profit website that gives away a free credit score based on Experian data. The score that is given away is your VantageScore credit score, but based on Experian data rather than TransUnion data like the one given away by CreditKarma. The scaling of this particular version of the VantageScore is 300 to 850, which is the same as FICO’s 300 to 850 score range.
LexisNexis – I bet you didn’t know that LexisNexis is considered a consumer reporting agency. They maintain the “CLUE” database, which stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. This database is like a credit bureau but only for insurance companies. If you’ve filed an auto or homeowner’s claim in the past 7 years then you probably have a CLUE Report and those reports are sold to insurance companies to help them determine your premiums. You can get free copies of those reports at their website.
Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, founder of www.creditexpertwitness.com and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. You can follow John on Twitter here.