By Hal M. Bundrick
NEW YORK (MainStreet) Of all the personal data collected on consumers, one of the most important is only available to us at a price: our credit score. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is trying to change that, calling on the nation's top credit card companies to make credit scores freely available to their customers. The right to know what data is shared with others regarding our financial reputation is one good reason accuracy is another.
"Credit reports and scores can determine the terms of people's mortgages, whether they qualify for auto loans, or if they are eligible for different credit cards," says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Making consumers' credit scores freely available on their monthly statement or online makes it easier for them to spot problems with their credit report."
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three biggest credit reporting agencies in America, maintain files on over 200 million consumers information that is shared to lenders but available to consumers only upon request. Our credit history information can be obtained for free but a personal credit score, the rating lenders rely on to make decisions regarding credit availability and cost, is only available upon payment of a fee.
The CFPB says fewer than one in five Americans check their credit report in any given year and that means errors and omissions can linger, along with awareness of identity theft. CFPB Director Cordray has contacted the nation's top credit card companies urging them to make credit scores and related content available at no cost to their customers.