A number of credit score apps promise instant access to your credit score, score monitoring and financial guidance. But some may have significant drawbacks, a Consumer Reports investigation found.
“Our investigation showed that these credit apps pose serious privacy risks, and what’s worse is that our survey of consumers who use these apps reveal that in some cases they don’t even provide an accurate credit score,” said Consumer Reports investigative reporter Lisa Gill.
Some credit score apps charge users for access to their credit reports — which consumers are legally entitled to for free. Some don’t provide access to the type of credit score that most lenders use.
“Several of the apps use the VantageScore 3.0, which has really limited value because a lot of lenders don’t even use it,” Gill said.
Syed Ejaz, a Consumer Reports policy analyst, said all consumers should have a legal right to obtain a free, accurate credit score. There’s a bill in Congress that would require it, but so far it hasn’t been scheduled for a vote.
“We’ve got a petition going on right now on action.consumerreports.org, where we’re collecting 40,000 signatures to send to Congress to ask them to work on this issue a little harder and a little faster,” he said.
The credit app companies Consumer Reports looked into said they take consumer privacy very seriously and that consumer trust is paramount to their business.
There are ways to get your credit score without using a credit score app. Try checking to see if your bank or credit card offers you access. You can check your credit report weekly for free through annualcreditreport.com.
Since your credit report impacts your credit score, be sure to review your report regularly and dispute any errors on the report in writing right away.
Here’s what companies said about their products:
Credit Karma does not provide personalized financial advice. We do provide financial product recommendations tailored to our members’ specific situations and needs. Our predictive, data-driven recommendations system is what uniquely positions us to help people navigate the complexities of their finances. There are three main ways we collect information about a member, and always with their permission: when they give it to us, when it’s automatically collected by our systems and when we ask others for it (e.g. when a member syncs their vehicle with Credit Karma, we pull in DMV information with a member’s consent). Member trust is paramount to us. Credit Karma never sells member data. We only share data in limited circumstances such as when a member chooses to apply for a financial product, and always with the members permission.
Credit Sesame is a membership-based financial wellness platform, and customers have to affirmatively sign up to use it. Through our financial wellness platform, we’ve helped millions of consumers improve their credit score:
- More than 60 percent of members see their credit score improve within the first six months
- 50 percent see their credit score improve by more than 10 points in their first six months
- 20 percent see their credit score improve more than 50 points in their first six months.
We strictly comply with data protection laws, and we remain vigilant when it comes to data security and integrity. This includes our own commitment to strict compliance regarding legal, ethical and responsible uses of data. Consumer provide Experian express permission to access their information, which allows us to help them improve their credit profile or offer them access to appropriate credit products from our business partners. Importantly, this gives consumers access to features like Experian Boost, a free tool that allows consumers to add positive payment history to their Experian credit file to potentially increase their FICO Score immediately. Since the launch, more than 6 million consumers have used Boost, adding a cumulative total of more than 50 million points. This has a big impact for consumers who are able to move score bands and access credit with better terms, or even generate a FICO Score for the first time thereby becoming a part of the credit ecosystem. We also leverage intelligence to provide personalized offers that consumers are most likely to qualify for so they can be successful at credit.
With this in mind, we are proud of our highly rated (4.8 rating) app because it’s another way we are meeting consumers’ needs for easy, on-the-go access to their financial information. Our app is the only app where consumers can get a free FICO Score and increase their credit score for free with Experian Boost right at their fingertips.
Additionally, working with third parties such as Kochava is an industry standard, and we only work with third parties that also have strict data practices and policies. We believe in giving consumers control over their financial profile, which is why we launch tools such as Experian Boost and provide a range of resources that help consumers budget, get access to credit, and protect their financial accounts and identity. Leveraging data allows us to make this happen.
It’s important to note, consumers do not cede any rights under the FCRA by using our services to file a dispute. All rights and remedies available under the FCRA, including the right to seek damages for alleged violations of the FCRA (or under any other law), are available through our dispute resolution policy, which includes an agreement to arbitrate disputes with Experian and its affiliates.
I’d like to emphasize that data security has always been, and always will be, our highest priority. At Experian, we are committed to the responsible and ethical use and security of data.
Unfortunately, with the various out of office schedules, I have not been able to connect with the myFICO product team to get your answers. However, based on my prior experience, I want to note that myFICO does not provide users with personalized advice or personalized offers of credit products. They do offer a lot of educational materials to help consumers understand credit and FICO Scores, and information to help them better understand their entire credit profile (FICO Scores, credit reports and credit monitoring from all 3 bureaus).
TransUnion offers consumers the choice of several credit products to help people monitor, protect and grow their credit health, including free weekly credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.
The TransUnion: Score and Report app offers credit reports, monitoring/alerts, a score simulator, debt analysis, identity theft insurance, personalized offers and more. TransUnion complies with the FCRA and all applicable privacy laws in every respect.