Although U.S. residents are entitled to get free copies of their credit reports annually, this doesn’t include the right to free credit scores. The credit bureaus can and do charge for those.
Real FICO Score
Some credit bureaus sell credit scores to consumers that aren’t based on the FICO formula, but are claimed to still be good indicators of a consumer’s creditworthiness. However, these results can differ from the FICO numbers that lenders typically use. This can cause a problem for you because the scores you paid for may be different from the actual score a lender is using to evaluate your creditworthiness. Most credit bureaus do not go out of their way to tell people that the scores they’re selling aren’t the FICO scores most lenders use. Sometimes, these scores can vary as much as a hundred points from the FICO score. Hence, if you are paying for your credit score, be careful and make sure you are getting a real FICO score.
The FICO score has a different name at each of the credit reporting agencies, but they are all developed using the same methods by Fair Issac.
Credit Bureau FICO Score Name
Equifax Beacon Score
Experian Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model
TransUnion FICO Risk Score, Classic
One of the places to get your credit score is www.MyFICO.com, a joint venture between Fair Isaac and Equifax. When you get your FICO score, you can also get a summary of the major factors that are affecting it. Understanding these factors can help you improve your score. For example, a notation that your balances are too high is a hint for you to pay down your debt.
As a precaution when getting your credit score online, check to see that you have a secure connection before you reveal any private financial information, such as your social security number or credit card numbers.