First Stop: CreditSesame.com
Do you want to know your actual credit score? Who’d blame you for not trusting the scores your credit card company provides. When it comes to your credit score (VantageScore), there is a lot of mis-information out there, and oftentimes, the scores your credit card company provides are calculated with a different formula, and they give you a distorted view of your true score.
So, to see your actual score, go directly to the source. Credit Sesame is a very reputable website that gives you your actual, the REAL and TRUE credit score. Seriously, it’s that simple.
Head over to Credit Sesame right now, and register for a free account. Once you’ve registered and verified your email, you’ll have instant access to your free Credit Score.
Like the previous credit scores we discussed, you’ll see several different scores on Credit Sesame, but here is what you’re looking for in particular:
Your TransUnion credit score … the TransUnion FICO score that’s near the top of the page
Second Stop: My Banker
The really big online bank websites will often have a link on their home page that says something like "Check your credit score."
If you find one of those links click it. It will take you to a section of the site that looks like this:
DO NOT USE these websites. These are not the banks’ true FICO scores, but they are a good alternative for anyone who doesn’t have a regular credit card and no longer has a credit report on file at the big three credit bureaus.
This is where you will enter any information the website requests and in return the website will give a page that will give you your FICO score.
Press the back button on your browser and click the button that says “Scorecard”.
Press the button that says “Get My Score.”
Finally, you’re at a bank website that will give you your score AND it’s FREE!
Third Stop: Credit Scores at MyFico.com
Fourth Stop: Contact the Expert (about freakin’ time)
After a lot of email back and forth, you finally get the green light from the credit bureau to speak directly to the expert. It’s an emotional moment. The expert sounds intelligent and has given you hope that you MAY be able to fix this after all!
The expert recites the same memorized script you’ve been hearing for weeks (at least it seems like weeks), with zero follow-up questions. You ask the question you’ve been dreading and holding your breath for, “There doesn’t appear to be an account in my name with this company. What could this mean?” Then …
“At no time did you have an account with this company.”
Stop. This is a big one. Meaningful. Makes you want to pull over the car and pull out your hair by the handful. WHAT???? I’m not going to spell out the full story, but let me say that if you’re to be believed, then the fact that there is no account associated with your name means that this bankruptcy got unscrewed and you have been thrown in the sewer and flushed!
Fifth Stop: Getting a Second Expert Opinion
At this point, you have eliminated paid credit repair agencies and all consumer credit repair experts through the four previous stops on the red carpet (start here for the details). This is it. Your last chance to eliminate the 5% of credit repair scammers before moving into the ranking phase of the process, where you start comparing credit repair clients to each other and begin scoring FICO credit scores.
The fifth stop on the red carpet is to get a second opinion from an expert.
I've used the same expert credit repair professional since I began to work in the industry. With more than 20 years in the industry, my favorite expert has the ability to decipher a client's credit report, recognize and eliminate credit repair scams, and offer expert advice for my clients.
I meet with the expert every quarter to review our clients' credit reports, and provide a master list of red flags I've discovered from our direct clients. He runs a quick analysis on our master list, then we discuss each client's unique credit issues. While previous financial or life successes rarely hurt anyone's credit, they can create obstacles to overcoming credit blemishes. For example, if your client is a retired model and previously owned her own clothing store, she can almost certainly become your next client's best friend. Yet, having massive credit card debt can be an issue to overcome as explained next.
Credit Score Takeaways
The best place to find your FICO score is Experian:
- You can get your FICO score for free from Experian or CreditKarma.
- You can get a FICO score from the other two bureaus by ordering your credit report from them directly.
- Your credit score changes all the time (even daily).
- Your FICO score never changes and is always the same. (Technically, when one of the components changes your score changes but the new score is based on the same data as the old score.)
- Your FICO score is one number out of a possible range of 300-850.
- Your FICO score is based on five dimensions: Credit Utilization, Depth of Credit, Credit History, New Credit, and Types of Credit.
- There is no such thing as an "average" score. There are just too many variables to make that statement accurate.
- If your score changes greatly from one report to the next, there is a good chance that a big change happened to one of the five dimensions.
- Your credit score is calculated by a secret formula. There is no way to know exactly how the score is calculated.
- The FICO score is not created by a "computer" but by a man named Earl. A statistician named Bill Fair and a mathematician named Earl Isaac developed the FICO scoring system in 1956.