Do you know what your credit score is? Sorry to trick you with a loaded question like that. Different credit bureaus come up with different algorithms leading to different numbers. The three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, could all give you different numbers. And to get those numbers you typically have to pay them. These services are very safe to use just like online banks… well some of them.
If you are a bit frugal with your cash, there are cheaper options. For instance, thanks to some great legislation you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request to view your credit report from each of the three major credit unions. It’s important to note that this is just a credit report – not a credit score. You get the information that they are pouring into Fair Isaac Company’s Black Box (FICBB), but not the number the box spits out. Alternatively, you can get a free score of TransUnion’s data from Credit Karma. The catch there is that Credit Karma’s black box is not the same as FICBB. I’ve found it to be fairly accurate for me, but there is no guarantee that is the case for everyone. If you can afford to pay for your credit score, it makes sense to do a little research on the available options.
I suppose you are thinking, “Yeah, great… so what?” I’m uncomfortable not knowing exactly how that FICBB works. While there are numerous hints and tips on how to fix your credit the process for calculating the score isn’t as transparent as it could be. We don’t really know what’s going on in the FICBB.
Now you may be thinking, “What do we gain from a transparent credit scoring system? I’ve done fairly well with the current system.” Our credit scores impact our finances greatly. Our finances impact our quality of life. I think we have the opportunity to make our credit scoring system more accurate. That will only help people with money to lend figure out who is a good credit risk. We’ll only find out if we open up the FICBB or develop another system that consumers can examine. Then, like open source software, we can look for holes in the credit scoring system and fix them. The overall product will be stronger because of it.
Maybe someday a company (perhaps Credit Karma) will bring this vision to reality. Perhaps a company already has and it’s not on my radar. What do you think? Leave me a comment