creditreportSo many companies offer “FREE” credit reports on the Internet and in mailings but are they really free?   NO.   There are so many scams or offers with strings attached to most offers that even a puppet would get frustrated.     Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law — annualcreditreport.com.  Most all other websites (including “freecreditreport.com) offering free scores are scams.  However,  there are two recent developments in which consumers really can find some fairly decent sources of credit scores that are actually free.

First, a number a credit card companies are offering free credit reporting scores as part of the benefits of being a credit card holder.  In fact,most major card issuers provide free scores, or plan to do so in 2015. The scores, a critical indicator of financial health, are on their way to becoming as easily available as credit reports, from which scores are derived.  But remember, these are not your full credit report, just a score based upon one of a number of credit reporting criteria.

Similarly, two independent websites offer free access to your credit scores.  Credit Karma is advertiser-supported, so you will get offers from credit card companies and other lenders after you give your personal information, in exchange for your credit score.  You need only provide your social security number, to verify your identity and the service provided fairly decent credit score information including three credit scores from TransUnion, each calculated with a different proprietary scoring model: TransRisk score, the VantageScore (developed jointly by all three major credit bureaus), and an Auto Insurance Score.  I was generally impressed with the accuracy of the information and the site’s ease of use.  Another free service is offered by Credit Sesame.  Credit Sesame doesn’t provide a FICO score but rather a “Experian National Equivalency Score”, which should appeared to be a good facsimile of my FICO score.   Again, the site was easy to use and didn’t try any hard-sell tactics.

If you are looking for some information about your credit worthiness either or both of these sites might prove to be useful resources for you……….and they actually are FREE. But keep in mind that free access to your credit reporting history is available through only one site: annualcreditreport.com.   Any other site offering access to credit reports should be viewed very skeptically.