Free access to credit scores for struggling consumers

FICO — the business analytics company that calculates everyone's credit score — has agreed to provide free credit scores to consumers who seek counseling through non-profit credit counseling organizations. FICO noted that it was influenced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which believes that credit counselors' work is more effective when the counselor and consumer can discuss the consumer's credit score.

Federal law gives everyone the right to a free copy of his or her credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting companies — Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. But the law does not give consumers the right to the credit score — a key number that lenders use to decide whether and on what terms to extend credit. Typically, the consumer can pay a fee to get the score.

But in recent years, some credit card companies have started giving their customers free access to their credit scores. And now FICO is making the score available to some consumers as well.


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