Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we are all entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year. We highly recommend that everyone requests these free reports and reads through them to identify misinformation. However, you will not receive your credit score with your free report and a few Democratic senators are hoping to change that.
What Is the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act?
Introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders in January of 2017, this bill proposes that the three credit reporting agencies (CRAs), Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, be required to give consumers their credit score along with their credit report. As it is now, consumers must pay the CRA to have access to their credit score. Because of this, for-profit services have arisen that either overcharge consumers for their score or promise additional services that they do not deliver. Senator Sanders and others are hoping to eliminate the deceptive marketing of credit reporting services through this bill. The sponsors are also hoping to further educate consumers about their credit history so that they can protect themselves from bad debt and identity theft.
What Does a Credit Score Tell You?
Creditors rely on credit scores calculated by the CRAs to tell them a consumer’s credit risk at a glance. Having a high score (750-800) will give a consumer access to loan approvals, lower interest rates, smaller deposits for rent or utilities, and lower insurance premiums. Lower scores could result in loan denials, difficulty getting a credit card, and the inability to rent an apartment. It is vital that consumers know what their credit score is in order to take steps to protect or improve it.
Check Your Score, But Don’t Get Cheated
Your safest bet is to request your free credit reports from the government website at www.annualcreditreport.com. Other websites might charge you for what should be free. When purchasing your credit score—which we recommend doing every year—go directly through one of the CRAs. It should cost around $16. Credit monitoring services are generally not worth the money. You may end up paying over $200 a year for something you could do yourself for much less. If the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act passes, smart consumers will have a much easier time of monitoring their credit and protecting their finances.