Whether you're financing a house, looking for work or just buying insurance for your car, your credit matters.
Which is why so many people are willing to pay to see their credit scores. FICO, originator of the most popular credit score, charges $20 to see your score from each major credit reporting agency. So seeing all three will set you back nearly $60.
That's a lot of money just to check your credit score. But it gets worse. Because you could be paying for one thing and receiving something else entirely.
What you paid for was the same credit score a bank or mortgage lender sees. But that's not what you're getting. That was the conclusion of a study last fall by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
A quote from that report: "consumers should not rely on credit scores they purchase exclusively as a guide to how creditors will view their credit quality." Why is this? Because lenders will often get an entirely different score, and it might put you in an entirely different credit category.
How often does that happen? According to the CFPB report, 19 to 24 percent of the time. So you're paying $20 for a score that may not be reliable.
We contacted FICO for a response. They said, in part, "It's true that there are multiple versions of the FICO Score. But these versions are all based on the same underlying mathematical blueprint as the score sold to consumers on myFICO.com."
The law now allows us to get free annual credit reports every year, and we deserve free credit scores as well. Free, reliable credit scores.
There's a bill in Congress right now called the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act of 2013 that would make it happen.
Want to support it? I'll show you how.
Just go to MoneyTalksNews.com and do a search for "Credit Scores" For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.