Upon request, every consumer is entitled to a free credit report each year. And this isn’t just something that the credit reporting companies do out of the goodness of their hearts, consumers are entitled to this by federal law – and for good reason. After all, many entities pull consumer credit reports as part of a background check, so taking the initiative to get your credit report on an annual basis gives consumers a better idea of where they stand big picture-wise and allows them to see if there are inaccuracies on their report.
However, while consumers are entitled to get credit reports on an annual basis, it may surprise you to learn that there’s no federal law in place where consumers can receive complimentary annual credit scores. This isn’t from a lack of trying though – lawmakers introduced legislation in both 2009 and 2013 that would federally mandate this, but both bills stalled before they could be signed into effect.
It’s important to note that it’s not difficult for consumers to attain their credit scores free of charge if they know where to look – and at a frequency of much more than just once per year – but it is somewhat odd considering the difference between credit reports and credit scores in terms of being federally mandated.
Why No Free Credit Scores?
So just why has legislation for free annual credit scores stalled on the federal level? The consensus seems to be that there are just too many different credit scores with too many different formulas to choose from. And while the FICO score is the most commonly known credit score, the fact that lawmakers couldn’t agree on just one score is a likely culprit for its failure to be signed into law. If there was a lone universal credit score, there’s a good chance that this would already be a law. And while that may happen in the future, there’s no indication that such is imminent.
How to Get a Free Credit Score
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not difficult to attain your credit score for free – you just need to know where to go to get it. Many banks and credit unions will offer to pull it for you for free from time to time, and there are a bevy of online services that will allow you to see it for free several times a month.
We strongly advise taking advantage of federal law and pulling your credit report on an annual basis. We also recommend utilizing the various credit entities to check your credit score, at least on a quarterly basis. One thing to keep in mind with the latter, however, is that you want to be checking your credit score and comparing it against the same scoring model to give you a better idea of how it has improved or declined.