There are a number of credit report or even credit score companies which seem to market themselves on a fallacy: knowing your credit makes it better. For example, Micah interpreted one commercial as implying that if only this guy had gotten his credit report before going car shopping, he would have been able to buy an awesome car. Apparently it’s magic.
Or in another a guy apparently wouldn’t have married his wife if he’d known she had such bad credit. He shouldn’t worry, she won’t hurt his credit score…they may just have to apply for things in his name. And could he really check her credit? That would be illegal. If he’s eligible for the home loan, he wants (and seems to think he could get without her) he could have gotten it himself.
The ditties are amusing and cute or scary, but the implications are off.
First, knowing your score/report doesn’t actually give you better credit.*
Second, while the companies provide a credit monitoring service (what the third commercial, with pirates, talks about) that’s not the free part. Which is why freecreditreport.com’s name pisses me off (splendid marketing, though). You can’t even get the report without signing up for their program, complete with payment info if you forget to cancel.
* Some companies offer to clear up your credit, which they’ll do by contesting every claim. Bad idea. First it’s fraud. Fraud = bad. Second, it’s only temporary and once they figure out that you really did make those late payments you lose the shiny score. And third, once your fraud is exposed you could very well lose the good loan rate you’d gotten.
To truly clean up your credit, start repaying debt and the like. Don’t look for quick fixes and ask for lots of details from anyone who’s offering to help you with it. Don’t go for anything shady. Consider reading Suze Orman, since she likes to talk about it.
If you do want a free credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. Even if knowing is half the battle it’s not a magic formula.
And if people feel knowing about their credit and activity is that important to them, I have no trouble with someone comparison shopping and signing up with a service for their peace of mind. It’s just not free and it won’t fix any problems.