Local company offers free credit scores


Most of us, at one time or another, have paid to get our credit score. Now a local company has come up with a way to give you your score for free.

San Francisco-based Credit Karma believes consumers shouldn't have to pay for their own credit scores, "We're a completely free site that allows consumers to track and monitor their credit all online and all for free," said Credit Karma CEO Kenneth Lin.

Oakland resident Ian Cooper uses Credit Karma for just that purpose. The 48-year-old single dad was a victim of identity theft, "It just gave me the peace of mind that I was keeping an eye on things."

Here's how it works -- users can access their credit score for free. It's not the widely used FICO score, but Joe Ridout with Consumer Action says that's not the point, "Credit Karma gives you a score that is not very useful just by itself. If you keep track of that score and find out if it's going up or going down, that is going to be mimicking whether your real credit score, your FICO score is going up or down."

Credit Karma isn't the only such site. Credit Sesame offers a similar service. And, like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame gives you a FAKO, or free fake FICO score. But, there's a difference, "I like Credit Karma more because you can pull your report every day and find out how it changes every day," Ridout said. "With Credit Sesame, you actually have to wait a month before you can get new information."

Credit Karma is advertiser supported. That makes it possible to keep the site free for its 7.5 million users, "A lot of other free credit sites say they're free, but they're not actually free," Lin said. "So if you don't cancel, you often get charged."

Another way to get a free credit report is to go to Annualcreditreport.com; although, that report does not include a score.

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