Home > Credit Score > Millions With Credit Problems Can Now Get Free Credit Scores

Comments 0 Comments

Millions of Americans working with nonprofit credit counselors will have free access to their FICO credit scores as part of a new agreement between FICO and the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced the agreement in an April 21 blog post, saying that this change will allow counselors and their clients have more informative, productive conversations about how to improve clients’ credit standings.

For many consumers, finding a way out of debt and repairing damaged credit isn’t a journey they can confidently navigate alone. Seeking the help of a credit counselor can be an affordable, efficient way to make progress on such goals, because the counselor’s knowledge can empower the consumer to make positive changes. A big part of empowering these consumers is helping them understand their financial situation, but counselors previously have been prohibited from sharing with consumers the credit scores and credit reports they purchase on consumers’ behalf.

“This no-sharing policy is common in contracts signed by business users of credit reports and scores,” the CFPB blog post reads. “But when applied to consumer counseling, it limits a client’s ability to review the credit history provided by the counselor on their own and may make the consumer more dependent on the counselor to take steps to manage or improve her credit standing.”

This is the latest in a series of moves FICO has made to make credit scores freely accessible to more consumers. For example, Discover and Barclaycard credit cardholders are among the consumers who can get their FICO scores for free, because of an agreement between FICO and the card issuers. This new agreement is a bit different, because it targets consumers who are actively trying to rebuild damaged credit — arguably, a group that most needs to access and understand their credit information.

The agreement only concerns FICO scores purchased by credit counselors on behalf of their clients — depending on the agreements in place, counselors are still unable to share with consumers their other scores and credit reports. The CFPB blog post notes that Experian is “updating its policy and nonprofit counselors that purchase credit reports on behalf of their consumer clients will soon be able to share that those reports, as well as the scores, with the consumer.”

If you’re struggling to make a plan to rebuild your credit and are curious about what nonprofit credit counselors have to offer, be sure to research your options. Ask credit counselors questions about their services and what they cost, and make sure they’re qualified to help you with the problems you’re encountering. Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also get two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team