Q: Is FreeCreditScore.com safe and really free? Or is it just another scam to separate you from your hard-earned money?
A: That question was part of an email I received from a reader. Read my FreeCreditScore.com review to find out the real deal behind this company…
Is FreeCreditScore.com the same as FreeCreditReport.com?
Different websites, same company. A couple years ago the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on the marketing of “free” credit reports and that basically messed up the whole marketing mojo behind FreeCreditReport.com.
So what did they do? Well these days they focus on FreeCreditScore.com instead, since the FTC hasn’t cracked the whip on free scores [yet]. That’s why the old band went bye-bye and the new website uses a totally different group. It’s not “free” unless you cancel within the 7 day trial and doing that, according to customer reviews, can be quite a tedious process.
If you want a truly free score without any hidden tricks, Barclays gives real FICO scores for free to active cardholders of this MasterCard:
Obviously the biggest complaint about the first website was the people felt they were getting duped by the claim that the credit reports were free. Are these credit score offers operated the same way? Sort of.
When you signup, you get a 7 day trial in their credit score monitoring service. Now if you cancel before the trial is up, it really is free… you won’t pay anything. However if you forget, then after your 7 days are up you will be billed $14.95 per month for the service.
Something important to note is what’s in the fine print:
“The credit monitoring benefit may only be available for 5 days during your trial period since enrollment can take up to 2 days.”
That means you can’t confuse the date the benefit starts with the enrollment period. When counting the 7 days, to play it safe it would be best to count from the same day/time you sign-up for the offer. If you enroll, make sure you cancel within that time.
Is it accurate?
Personally, I don’t really have a problem with how they structure the 7 day trial because automatic enrollment without cancellation is pretty typical for any type of service trial out there. However what I do have a problem with is the accuracy of their offer.
Is FreeCreditScore.com accurate? Well, I guess that depends on what your definition of “accurate” is. You see they don’t give you a FICO score but rather something different called the Experian Plus Score (sidenote: Experian owns the FreeCreditScore website).
Unlike FICO, this Plus Score is NOT used by lenders. It even says it right in the website’s fine print:
FICO runs on a scale of 300 to 850. Meanwhile the PLUS score runs from 330 to 830. Some people call these imitators FAKOs because the difference from a FICO can be quite dramatic. Sure, they will still help you gauge where you stand with your creditworthiness, but you can’t use them for an apples-to-apples comparison.For example, if you ask a mortgage broker “Will this Plus Score of mine qualify me for the mortgage?” or ask on this forum “Is my Plus Score good enough for that credit card?” you will probably receive responses of bewilderment.
Rather than comparing apples to oranges, wouldn’t you much rather do an apples-to-apples and learn your real FICO score?
Worth it or not?
FreeCreditScore.com is technically not a “scam” or “ripoff” because they give you exactly what they advertise. Of course, some people don’t read things though before they signup, so they have no idea they are getting a FAKO instead of a FICO, nor are they aware they have to cancel a FreeCreditScore.com membership to keep it truly free. But the truth is all of that is disclosed on their website if you read it.
There is really very little reason to hassle with their free trial offer. It’s also probably not worth it to pay the $14.95 to use it as a long-term credit monitoring service. I’m sure it will probably be adequate for notifying you when new things positively or negative affect your credit but at the end of the day, why pay $14.95/month for that when you aren’t even getting your FICO?! .
Instead my recommendation would be to sign-up for a service which actually gives you the genuine FICO score. Unfortunately, there are only two websites which sell true FICO scores directly to consumers: Equifax and MyFICO. Everyone else out there is selling FAKOs.If you want a score that’s not used by lenders, then by all means signup for the FreeCreditScore.com free trial. But in my opinion you’d be much, much better off with the no annual fee Discover it Card or the Barclaycard MasterCard that gives you genuine FICOs each and every month on your statement for absolutely no cost. That’s an incredible deal when you think of it given what it costs to actually buy your score from one of these other sites. Plus it’s very convenient to see it every months and track to see what your spending and payment behavior does to your score.
Written or last updated August 21, 2014