Consumers blindsided by Experian on credit score

At a time when it's so important for consumers to monitor their credit scores, Experian, one of the three credit reporting agencies, has decided consumers are not entitled to see their FICO scores based on their Experian credit file. I did call Experian's press office for a comment, but have not yet received a call back.

Federal law only requires that the credit reporting agencies make your credit file available, there is no law stating that you must have access to your credit score before applying for a loan.

Beginning on February 13, you will only be able to get Equifax and TransUnion credit scores on myFICO.com. When you go to myFICO you'll see a banner headline about the cutoff by Experian. According to the notice on myFICO's discussion boards, Fair Isaac says, "It is important to understand the majority of lenders will continue to use FICO scores based on Experian data to make creditworthiness decisions, but those FICO scores based on Experian data will not be available via www.myFICO.com, nor any other public venue."

Fair Isaac, goes on to tell lenders, "Fair Issac is dedicated to offering FICO Scores to financial institutions via all three of our bureau partners to provide the most independent and fair representation of a consumer's credit picture. . .To meet consumers' credit empowerment demands, Fair Isaac will continue to offer both Equifax and TransUnion credit management services through our myFICO.com website."

Given that Experian advertises the most on TV pushing their website FreeCreditReport.com with the singer whose credit score got ruined, it's ironic that they would close off access to this important piece of information. You can see comments about the change on the forums at myFICO.com. Here's one excellent comment from that board: "The conspiracy theorist/paranoid side of me wants to think that this is EX giving into pressure from their lender customers, who, without an informed public with any real visibility into their own credit scoring, can approve, reject and set rates with little or no explanation to the applicant other than the standard "due to information in your credit report" bit."
That comment describes exactly what did happen when consumers could not see their credit score. Without full disclosure of credit scores lenders can play games with the credit offers they give you. Right now you're only cut off from Experian's credit scores, but if they get away with it, I'm sure the other credit reporting agencies will follow Experian's lead.

If you want to protest write your Congressional representatives. Congress needs to make it a consumer's right to see the credit scores used to make lending decisions. Right now a lender must give you your score when you apply for credit, but that score is given to you after you have gotten a credit decision. Consumers need to see that information before they start applying for a loan.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Credit Score" and "Surviving a Layoff: A Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Your Life Back Together."

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