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Here’s What Free Credit Check Sites Really Cost You (It’s Not Just Money)

By on October 2, 2021 0


Many Americans have used free credit reports to see how they are doing financially. It’s not a bad idea to have a grip on your credit. But there is also a danger that awaits them. Tap or click here to see how much your credit card is now worth on the Dark Web.

There is a saying that just because something is free doesn’t mean you don’t pay for it. Much like social media, where it’s free to use, but you are the product that generates ad revenue for the platform.

The same can be said for free credit reports. It is generally understood that entering your details and getting a result is the end of the deal. But an investigation found that was not the case.

Here is the backstory

Consumer Reports (CR) has reviewed five of the largest credit rating monitoring companies, and virtually all of them are hiding a dark secret. They might be free, but you’re giving out more information than you think. In some cases, credit rating companies require much more detail than is necessary to give you a rating.

The companies targeted by the survey are:

  • Credit Karma
  • Sesame Credit
  • Experian Credit Report
  • myFICO
  • TransUnion: rate and report

For the survey, Consumer Reports signed up to the services to review their website, mobile apps, privacy policies and terms of service. He also surveyed 20 users from credit reporting companies and collected 300 reports.

It is relevant to note that Consumer Reports Goal was to “understand what information users have access to, what type of information services collect, how services share that information, and the cost structure of services”.

Your information in exchange for a credit report

The five companies provide you with a score from two of the largest credit bureaus. VantageScore 3.0 is used by Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and TransUnion. FICO 8 is used by Experian and myFICO.

But there is one thing the five have in common: broad permission to collect data. CR noted that all of these services share your information with their affiliates. This is done for marketing purposes or to sell you different products.

The services may also collect data that you have not provided to them. If you read the fine print you will notice that it says that they collect user data from third parties. Who are these third parties? Well, “local business reviews or public social media posts” is where Credit Karma goes.

“This data collection allows services to create user profiles incorporating a wide range of data in a way that may not be of benefit to the user and that could be shared with other companies,” said found Consumer Reports.

MyFICO is not much different. Its privacy policy states that it “may access public sources of personal data, such as census data and real estate records, and private sources of personal data such as business offices, business analysts, etc. ‘industry or market research data’. Seems like a lot of unnecessary data for a free report.

But perhaps the biggest offender when it comes to collecting your personal information is TransUnion.

The investigation found that it collects: user names, potentially the names of family members, home addresses, billing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, birthdates, employment information, credit card account information, device credentials, IP addresses, device identifiers, app identifiers, debt details, range income, financial information, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers and utility information. Ouch!

What can you do about it

Consumer Reports is relatively clear that businesses collect more information than they need. Therefore, it is generally not beneficial for users to register for their services or applications.

Check with your bank or card company to see if they can provide you with a free credit score. A lot of them do, and you can use AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also check your weekly credit score for free.

Avoid reporting apps that require a ton of personal data. It may give you a report at the end, but it won’t be entirely accurate and your data will be used for other purposes.

You can read the whole, long enough Unpaid Credit: The Limits Of Popular Credit Score Apps report here.

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