Yes, Virginia, you can get free credit scores, but typically you either have to 1) sign up for expensive and possibly unnecessary credit monitoring or 2) accept a score that’s different from the FICO scores lenders typically use. (If a credit score doesn’t say it’s a FICO, it’s not a FICO.)
But credit and debt expert Gerri Detweiler notes over at Credit.com blog that 2011 is likely to be the year when people finally get to see, for free, their FICOs as well as other scores being used to evaluate them. Detweiler does a good job of explaining why this is still a bit up in the air, but it appears that starting Jan. 1, some lenders will begin to share the credit scores they use to evaluate you when you apply for credit.
And then starting July 21, anyone who doesn’t get the best rate or terms because of a credit-based score will get free access to the score used, as Senator Mark Udall’s Free Access to Credit Scores (FACS) legislation, which was part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, takes effect. Since credit scores are so broadly used, this will affect anyone who because of his or her credit:
- gets turned down for a loan or has to pay a higher interest rate
- is required to get a co-signer
- must pay a higher rate for insurance coverage
- must make a deposit or a larger deposit with a utility or cell carrier
This is a great first step, but really, you should have free access to FICOs and any other score being used to evaluate you.