FICA Score A Number That Is Hard To Get

You should demand to get your FICA score as soon as possible. Because this key credit number can determine how much you pay on your house, what your insurance rates are, and even whether you get a job, it is important to know what it is. But, even though you can get free credit reports, in order to access your FICA score, you have to pay a fee.

That’s just wrong.

When Congress authorized the bill to require that the credit bureaus give one free credit report per year, they overlooked a very important number – the FICA score.

The individual credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union, all use the raw data from the Fair Isaac company to determine a score. But, Fair Isaac puts out the authoritative FICA score, which is what many businesses use to evaluate your credit worthiness. For instance:

• Lenders determine whether you get credit and how much you will pay in interest.
• Landlords determine whether you qualify to live in their homes or apartments.
• Utility companies use the FICA score to decide whether you have to pay a deposit for basic services like water and electricity.
• Cell phone companies may not give you a phone or service if your score is too low.
• Auto and home insurance companies use the score to determine insurance rates.

Most people don’t realize that they can’t access their credit reports for free. In fact, the Consumer Federation of American found that 75 percent of Americans thought they could get the number if they wanted to. That is part of the problem. Because they can get their credit report, they think they can also get their credit score.

Some companies charge a high fee – up to $50 a year – and then offer to “waive” it if you sign up for expensive monitoring services or other products you don’t need.

And, even when you purchase your number, you can’t be assured that it is accurate. In many cases there is a difference of 30 to 100 points between the actual score and the FICA score the consumer buys.

If you want to buy your score, the only place to be assured you’re getting the real thing is at MyFico.

You should also know that your actual credit score is always in flux. If you put an extra $200 on your credit card, your score could budge 3 points. If you close a department store account, your credit score could move. And, if you pay off a credit card but don’t close it, your credit score will also be adjusted.

But you’ll never know exactly how things are moving. In fact, the only business required to show you your FICA score is your mortgage company. And, they don’t even have to show you the score that they used to determine the mortgage, they can show you a different one which “proves” you need to pay a higher interest rate.

The credit bureaus’ product is the consumer’s personal data. Consumers have a right to this information. Congress needs to act to extend the right to get a free credit report each year to include the right to access your FICA score.

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