Update! From Experian’s PR team, apparently, they’ve changed their scammy ways!
“I wanted to clarify that we do indeed offer a free FICO credit score. There is no credit card requested and no required membership to enroll in.
Also, in our product freecreditreport.com, an Experian credit report is completely free.”
I still recommend using annualcreditreport.com. It’s free, it’s required by law, and there is nothing hidden.
You’ve probably seen the ads for freecreditscore.com and freecreditreport.com. Checking your credit score is important, and free is the best price, right? So clearly, this is the way to go.
Except it’s not. Not at all.
First off, let’s talk about what a credit report is. A credit report is a borrower’s history from a number of sources – banks, credit card companies, collection agencies, etc. It basically shows how much you have borrowed, how much you can borrow, and if you’re paying it back as you’re supposed to. Your credit score is a number based on this information that indicates how good of a risk you are to lending companies. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be willing and able to pay back the loan. If you’re low risk, you’ll get better interest rates on things like mortgages and car loans. If you’re high risk, your rates will be higher or places might not even be willing to loan to you at all?
Why is it important to check your credit report? Well, in general, it’s always good to have all the facts. But it’s also good to check for errors. Unfortunately, errors can happen on your credit report. There might be something on there that doesn’t belong to you thanks to identity theft or fraud. There might be a bill that appears to be sent to collections that you most definitely paid. These are all important things to know. More importantly, though, it’s good to know how you look to potential creditors. It’s also important to see all those numbers in one place. Sometimes, it can be a bit overwhelming to look at your debt in that manner, but it’s an easy way to see the full picture and start working on paying it off.
So using freecreditscore.com is awesome, right? No. Why? Because with many things on the internet, it’s not free. Sure, you can get your info for free… if you sign up for their credit monitoring service. It’s not free. It’s free with purchase. It is through Experian, which is one of the “good” credit report companies, but they’re definitely being terribly misleading.
Do you really want your free credit report? The government can help you with that. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com. By federal law, the big three credit reporting agencies have to give you a free credit report every year, and this is where they do it. You will not pay any money for this. It won’t give you your credit score – but you can get your credit report and make sure that all the accounts listed are actually yours. If you’re not looking to take out any new loans anytime soon, your credit score isn’t important right now – and by paying off debt and continuing to pay on time, your credit score will be increasing, even if you aren’t monitoring it.
Very few things in life are actually free. Most of the time, there is a cost. FreeCreditScore.com is definitely a scam. The info isn’t free, it comes with a cost, and not just a one time cost, but actually signing you up for a program that will continue to bill you until you cancel. A program that you can’t just click to cancel, but that you have to call and cancel. I’ve never signed up for this program, but you can bet they try to talk you out of cancelling. It’s a hassle that people don’t need to go through. If you want your credit report, go through AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s not a scam. It’s how the government is trying to protect you from the scammers and make sure that you have all the relevant information you need to make a good choice.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.