You may have noticed a change in the way merchants are advertising credit reports and credit scores and that stems from new regulations enacted by the Federal Trade Commission. The ubiquitous FreeCreditReport.com commercials have been surreptitiously replaced with FreeCreditScore.com commercials, though the new commercials share the same attitudes. Companies can no longer advertise the sale of free credit reports and AnnualCreditReport.com continues to be the only website permitted to promote using the term, “free credit report.”
However, you can still obtain your free credit score through a variety of websites, most notably, myFICO.com, the home of the FICO credit score. About six months ago, myFICO ceased offering the ability to obtain a free FICO credit score, but earlier this week, the company brought the offer back. Here’s how anyone can obtain their free FICO credit score.
The sign-up process to obtain your free myFICO credit score takes about two minutes as you progress through the following four steps:
- Enter your personal information which includes, name, address and social security number. You’ll also be asked to create your user details for logging in and out of your account regularly.
- Avoid additional services offered by myFICO. The company will attempt to sell you products, but these can be avoided if you’re careful.
- Enter your credit card information to secure a payment method if you decide to keep the myFICO credit monitoring service beyond the ten-day free trial period.
- Verify your identity through a series of multiple choice questions. If you answer any of the questions incorrectly, you will have a second chance to verify your identity. Answer the additional questions incorrectly and you’re out of luck.
Understanding your free FICO credit score
Once you have your free FICO credit score, it’s important to know where you fall on the credit score ladder. Having an excellent credit score can offer you a lower interest rate on big purchases like your car or house and while the range of excellent scores differs between creditors, the general consensus is as follows:
Canceling during your free trial
If after ten days of looking at your free FICO credit score you no longer want to utilize the services myFICO.com has to offer, all it takes is a phone call and the urge to resist the customer service representative’s hard sell. Depending on the quality of your credit score, you may want to continue using myFICO to monitor your credit as they can provide detailed credit reports and alerts anytime there is a change to your credit profile. Most people will not need any of the services they have to offer.
In order to maintain or build a quality credit score, you should check your actual score on a regular basis. Consumers often apply for credit with a little chance of qualifying, and multiple credit inquiries can affect how creditors view your credit worthiness. Knowing what you qualify for is the first step to understanding how to improve your credit.
It’s also worth looking into services like CreditKarma and Credit.com who also offer free credit scores and analysis. These sites do not provide an official FICO credit score. It’s valuable to know the FICO score because this is the metric that lenders, landlords, and employers will most likely see when evaluating your credit worthiness.
Updated February 18, 2011 and originally published September 23, 2010.