Understanding Free Credit Reports and Scores

Always the official site to receive a copy of your credit reports, AnnualCreditReport.com is not the only name in the game anymore. However, they still have the most reliable credit reports available once every twelve months, from all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).

What is Being Offered?

Reviewing our credit reports and understanding our scores is something very important for our financial health. After all, credit impacts everything from buying a home to turning on utilities. This has spawned an industry focused on opening access to our credit information. There are many sites offering credit related services. Sites like Credit Karma, Free Credit Report, Discover Credit Scorecard, Quizzle, etc. offer up everything from credit reports, scores, monitoring and credit product matching services.

Today we take a look at what to know about these sites. We also look at the best ways to use them.

Credit Score

What type of score is it? Two frequently provided scores are FICO and Vantage. Credit Karma, a popular free credit report and score website, offers users a Vantage credit score. They also offer two of the three major credit reports. Discover offers people a FICO score and one major credit report. 

Credit scores can vary widely. The ranges for a credit bureaus’ own scores may be very different than a Vantage or FICO score. Most major lending is done using the FICO score so if you are getting ready to make a major purchase, like a home, that is the score you will want to check. No matter which site you receive your credit score from, know that the number you see will not be the same number a lender sees.

Credit Report

If creditor information is provided, what is shown? Companies providing credit scores do not always provide the credit report. If a score is low or not where you expect it to be, you will not be able to see what information is bringing it down. You will need to get a copy the credit report (try AnnualCreditReport.com).

Reports may be formatted differently, too. The credit information shown by CreditSesame may not look like a report received via AnnualCreditReport.com. In fact, you may be asked to purchase a copy of your credit report if you want to see it. 

Creditor contact information is often missing from free credit report/score platforms. AnnualCreditReport.com is the best place to get a report with that data.

Products, Services and Security

Even though you do not have to pay for the reports or scores from some of these sites, they are not free. Advertisers use these sites to promote credit card offers, access to credit monitoring products, mortgage, auto and general loan advertisements, and miscellaneous services.

Be sure to safeguard your information when using these sites. The information you provide will be used to advertise to you. You may receive email offers or pop-up ads. Be sure to use secure passwords and only use the sites on secured Wi-Fi - not public. 

If you use the sites, do it to keep an eye on changes to your credit reports, reducing debt and increasing scores. Focus on moving credit scores up, rather than on the actual number shown. 

Credit and Debt Assistance

Having a good credit report and a good score is important and necessary in today’s world. As we said in the beginning of the graphic, our credit is used many ways. Employers, landlords, cell phone companies, insurance agencies and many more businesses use it to evaluate how likely we are to pay our debts.

Being prepared for all of these situations can make a big difference in our finances. If you need assistance reaching your goals, contact American Financial Solutions. We have the credit counseling or debt management plan you need. Call 888-864-8548 to speak to a counselor or visit us online today!