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Call Kurtis: Credit Score Confusion

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Kurtis Ming Kurtis Ming
Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sites are offering to give you your credit scores for free.  Kurtis Ming recently spoke with one expert says some of those sites are a waste of time.  Al Bingham tells us most of those scores you can buy online are “fake.” 
 
 Looking to buy a home, Abbie Steed got her credit scores through freecreditreport.com.  But when she met with her mortgage broker, Al Bingham, she learned they’re different from her FICO scores.  FICO scores are the only scores Bingham says most lenders use.  In fact, FICO shows Abbie’s Experian score is 80 points lower than what freecreditreport.com showed.
 
“That would be really discouraging to find that I would have to pay a higher interest rate than I was assuming when I came in,” says Abbie.
  
Our producer tested another site that claims to give away scores, FreeScore.com.  FICO lists her Experian score 63 points higher than what FreeScore.com shows.
  
Free credit score websites offer to give you your scores, if you sign up for their monthly credit monitoring services which cost money.  But when the numbers are this far off from your FICO scores, are they worth it?
  
“This is major fraud,” says Bingham.
  
Bingham, who wrote “The Road to 850,” a book on credit scores, says the numbers are useless.  He says it’s not until you read the fine print that sites like freecreditreport.com state their score is “…for educational use only” and “…is not currently sold to lenders.”
 
“Don’t try to make it like the FICO score.  Disclose up front ‘This is a generic credit score, it can be substantially different than your FICO score,” says Bingham.
  
Now freecreditreport.com may have to answer to a judge.  A class action lawsuit just filed against parent company Experian accuses the site of deception for not making it clear the score they sell is not used by lenders.
 
Experian tells us they’re comfortable with its disclosures.  Bingham calls it deceptive.
    
“If you are involved in a system that generates a credit score that’s not a FICO-generated credit score, just drop the system.  It’s not doing you any good,” says Bingham.
  
We noticed freecreditreport.com recently changed its fine print to clarify the fact that lenders do not use their scores and to explain why credit scores vary.
 
FreeScore.com says it gets its data from TransUnion.  We reached out to FreeScore.com, but didn’t hear back.
   
If you want to find out your real credit score you can buy it from myfico.com.  Your lender can also pull it up for you.

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