. Updated April 3, 2009 | By Greg Fisher
This is not just another page about free credit scores. It isn't about an irrelevant free Fake-O (with the same, EXACT SCALE as the FICO—what a COINCIDENCE) credit score. And, it isn't about getting your FICO score for free, but having to sign up for an ongoing service you pay monthly. You know: Like the magazine subscription with the "trial period" rigmarole where you sign up, then cancel to make it free.
This page is about getting THE credit score for free, with no hassle.
Credit card Catch-22
There was always something ironic, if not un-American, about letting people sign up for free credit scores—if they have a credit card. It's a little, uh, counter-intuitive for somebody trying to build a credit history. And, imagine how consumers feel when they go to annualcreditreport.com for their absolutely free credit report (required made available by law) and they have to pay for a score.
And, then, the poor suckers find out that with two out of three of the credit bureaus, it is not even the score lenders use.
But, now, at last, here it is, at FreeFICOScore.com, a free Equifax BEACON FICO credit score with no strings attached:
Free. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Goose egg. Zero. The FreeFICOScore.com FAQ says (just like your credit report from annualcreditreport.com) that you can get a free Equifax FICO score once every 12 months.
Fair Isaac and Equifax, an old, on-again/off-again sales relationship
Adversaries only months ago, Fair Isaac and Equifax have buried the hatchet and have come up another ingenious marketing scheme: Whet consumers' appetites with just the score—that is, merely the number, itself—then present the temptation of the full service at myFICO.com which includes the top four reasons that the score is not higher (FreeFICOScore.com only gives the top two), the Score Simulator to show how to increase the score, and the Equi-Facts credit report.
They go way back. Fair Isaac and Equifax were the original partners to market the FICO score to lenders in 1989. TransUnion and Experian, as usual, are late to the party—if they're even coming, at all.
One newsletter exclaimed:
"WARNING: This exclusive offer is ONLY for current or retired union members and union membership will be verified. Please do NOT refer this offer to non-union members."
Yikes! Like the big database that knows everything will confiscate your union card if you tell your kid about it. But, the service was tested by a non-union/non-credit union member even after the end date of the trial, and it worked.
According to a report of an email from mint.com to its members promoting the new free credit score service, "Your FICO® score is used by the majority of US banks and employers — but is NOT included in any free credit report." However, as that
sales pitch scare tactic continues, the credit bureaus all deny providing credit scores for employment screening. That mystery continues.
Word and deed on FICO scores
The FreeFICOScore.com FAQ refers to some highfalutin heretofore unheard-of fancy new thing called the "Power in Numbers Initiative." The partners say it was "launched by Fair Isaac and Equifax to empower consumers with knowledge of their FICO® credit score." Equifax loves those alliterative e words: "Empower" (the opposite of emasculate), and "Enrich" (the opposite of "you have to spend money").
The duo continues, "In recognition of the difficulties many Americans are currently facing with their overall financial health, this program was conceived as a way for every consumer to obtain their FICO® score and begin to take steps to monitor and improve their credit standing."
You can still get free access to your score, report and the simulator at the other site, myFICO.com—you just have to have a credit card.