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How to Get a Credit Score Online Safely

written by: Rosanna•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 10/16/2010

Many companies offer to provide you with your credit score but you may not realize you may be signing up for credit monitoring programs or other programs that lead to monthly or annual fees. Caution should be taken when considering how do I get my credit score online safely?

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    What is a Credit Score?

    Fico Logo Each person in the United States is issued a Social Security number. This Social Security number is used as your personal and unique identifier. As you begin to obtain credit, you develop a credit file. The credit file is a repository for your creditors to report how you handle your accounts. The Fair Isaac Corporation developed the FICO score which is the score most lenders use in reviewing your credit report.

    The FICO score is comprised of five different categories:

    • Payment History--35%
    • Credit Utilization--30%
    • Age of Credit History--15%
    • Types of Credit--10%
    • Inquiries--10%

    A credit score obtained by any company or organization other than through FICO will not have a FICO score that lenders use but will have what is referred to by industry experts as the FAKO score. The Fair Isaac Corporation has never revealed the exact scoring model used to calculate the FICO score, which leaves other companies to develop a model that is felt to be similar. This means the FAKO scores can never replicate the true FICO score but is usually within 20 to 50 points of the actual score.

    For consumers who wish to have the most accurate credit scores that a lender will see, a FICO score is the score you need to obtain.

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    How Do I Get My Credit Score Online Safe?

    Now that you know what a credit score is and how it is calculated, you may be asking "How do I get my credit score online safely?" That is a good and smart question because there are many online sites that offer to give you a credit score at no charge or some other benefit. What consumers fail to realize is that in the small print, a consumer inadvertently signs up for a credit maintenance plan or some other program. The consumer doesn't realize they've signed up for a plan until they opens their credit card statement or bank statement and sees a withdrawal. Contacting the online site results in being told that the information was clearly shown on the site and you didn't read the disclosure.

    This issue leads to two problems--you don't have a real FICO score and you have now spent more money on something you thought was free or low cost.

    The only site to offer the true FICO score is by visiting FICO.com. By visiting this site, you will obtain the credit score lenders use and will not be signing up for any additional programs or fees unless you specifically request additional services. FICO.com is the answer to "How do I get my credit score online safe?"

    FICO.com often has a discount code available for consumers to receive the credit score and report at a discounted cost. By visiting Come Back Credit and looking on the sidebar you can see if there is a current discount code.

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    Are There Any Other Options for Getting a Safe Credit Score?

    You do have additional options to get a safe credit score by visiting credit bureau's websites. The three credit bureaus are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each of these credit bureaus will provide you with a credit score but you must be aware this is a FAKO credit score and will not be the credit score used by lenders. You also have to be a bit more careful on these credit bureau sites to ensure you do not sign up for any credit monitoring plan. You will not have the option hidden deeply in a disclaimer, but will be offered the option to sign up for credit monitoring during the ordering process.

    If you're looking for a totally free option to obtain a copy of your credit report that will be considered a FAKO score and includes information from all three credit bureaus, all US Citizen's can obtain a 100% free copy of their credit report annually by visiting the Federal Trade Commission's website.

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    References

    • GSA - http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/money/creditscores/your.htm
    • Come Back Credit - http://www.comebackcredit.com/ & http://www.comebackcredit.com/how-is-my-credit-score-calculated/

    Image Credit: (Wikimedia Commons)