Is my credit score FICO or Fake-O?

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We’ve all seen them: those quippy credit report commercials with the jingles that get stuck in your head all day long. They talk about credit monitoring, bad credit and of course they offer – what luck! – a free credit report.

Well, as the old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What many credit reporting companies such as these don’t tell you, is that all credit scores are not created equal. Sure, it’s possible to get a free credit score, but the fact of the matter is, that in terms of getting a number that’s of any use to you, there’s only one kind that’s going to matter.

The Gold Standard for credit is the FICO score.

The FICO score is the only score that creditors use to assess if and how you qualify for credit when you’re buying a home, purchasing a car, or looking to get any other type of credit. While they may be based on your credit history, the other scoring models are simply not going to cut it.

In our years of work, we’ve seen at least 12 different types of credit scoring, none of which are showing a FICO score. The real issue, of course, is that many of these scoring models don’t even have the same scoring range, which can simply confuse the average consumer, when the time comes.

So where can you get a true FICO score?

The best way is to have your loan officer (if you’re buying a home) or another credit professional, pull the score for you. This is a “hard” hit and will negatively affect your score by 3-5 points.

Frankly, this hit is a small price to pay for the accuracy of a complete report, with all three credit bureaus reporting. On the other hand, MyFico.com will offer you a two-bureau report, which is considered a “soft” hit (ie. there is no adverse affect on your credit).

It’s important to know that, when assessing your loan, all three credit bureau scores are taken into account in one way or another. We feel that it’s best to go with a trusted professional.

So even though it’s possible to get a free credit score, just remember: if it’s not FICO, it’s FAKE-O!

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