The number that credit reporting bureau Experian supplies to lenders when you apply for a loan, used to evaluate whether the company should extend credit to you, will soon be unavailable to customers. At midnight tonight, customers will no longer be able to visit MyFICO to buy their own credit scores from Experian.
After today, the only way you will be able to access the score that represents your creditworthiness is to apply for a loan and ask for it. Even if you do this, it’s not guaranteed that the lender will comply.
Credit bureaus are now required to supply a free credit report three times a year (one from each bureau) through AnnualCreditReport.com. This is helpful to ensure that there are no mistakes on your report, but the only way to come close to fully understanding what lenders see about you when you apply for a loan is to know your FICO credit score.
This information should be free and available anytime. Right now, you have to pay if you want your real FICO scores from the three bureaus. Any score you find offered for free is an estimation, even if it is based on formulas similar to the ones used by the bureaus for the official score. And with Experian pulling out of their agreement with MyFICO, the company is saying that customers do not deserve to know the same personal information that lenders, employers, and landlords see.
I am not happy with this change. Part of me thinks that the executives at Experian will “change their mind” tomorrow and decide to continue offering the score for purchase. If they do, it will probably be an extremely successful hoax meant to encourage customers to panic and buy their scores tonight. Either way, this is a step in the wrong direction for consumers.
Updated March 29, 2011 and originally published February 13, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.