People often get trapped into recurrent payments for credit monitoring services. But how is that actually helping and serving them? Merrill Chandler debunks some perceptions surrounding credit monitoring services. He explains when and how you should be acquiring these services to most benefit you and your finances. Most importantly, he shares where you should find the truth you trust, which is vital for keeping track of your credit scores and finances.
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The Truth You Trust About Credit Monitoring
Have You Been Deceived By Credit Karma?
I’ve gone off on different service providers for credit reports, credit scores, FAKO, FICO but I never spent a lot of time distinguishing what credit monitoring services you need to follow, what you can trust, you can’t trust, scores to trust, scores not to trust. Here you go, The Truth You Trust. We’ll do a deep dive into some pretty funny experiences I’ve had with credit monitoring and the things to watch out for. Be sure to follow, rate, and review as soon as we’re done with this awesome episode.
I’m excited to share with you a deeper dive into credit monitoring. We’ve talked about all kinds of things. I’ve pooh-poohed the business practices of credit karma, presenting FICO scores and hiding the fact that the lenders use them etc., but I haven’t spent a lot of time on other monitoring programs. We’re going to spend a little bit of time focusing on another version of that. That’s why we have the Truth You Trust insignia here because I want you guys to understand what it means to engage a credit monitoring service especially if it’s showing FICO scores.
The first thing we need to do is tell you a story. That story has 700 iterations of it because our client services company is called CreditSense. Invariably weekly, we get emails at [email protected] saying, “Please stop my credit monitoring service. You’re charging me $29.95 a month and I don’t want to pay this anymore. I’m going to turn you into the Better Business Bureau. I’ve called. I can’t get ahold of anybody.” People are throwing a fit. Since we don’t have a credit monitoring service, we know that someone is thinking about their credit and it’s crazy. They will read their credit statement and think that they read CreditSense. They Google CreditSense and end up with our phone number. They call and complain about us in credit monitoring. We do not have a credit monitoring service. We have to email them, call them back and say, “You’ve got the wrong company. We have a relationship with our Better Business Bureau because we’ve had over twenty complaints filed against us thinking we’re ScoreSense.” It gets cleaned up because we have a flawless Better Business Bureau record but it’s a pain in the butt for us. ScoreSense is not CreditSense.
In each of these cases, we’ve had people who were so angry at these credit monitoring organizations. ScoreSense is not alone. That’s the point I’m illustrating here. They’ve been so angry that they’ve gone to online complaint services and lambasted us. The amazing thing about our clients is in every way our clients have our back. Somebody went to Ripoff Report and we had clients who are like, “CreditSense is awesome. They are amazing. We love CreditSense. You’re talking about ScoreSense. That’s not who these guys are.” Between the Better Business Bureau or clients having our back for these types of complaints, we have engendered amazing goodwill about what we do and what we don’t do, credit monitoring.
Credit monitoring has a notorious reputation for skirting the edges of the truth. That’s why we call it The Truth You Trust. They have a notorious way of presenting information that makes it look like they are legitimate. I’m going to give you an example. When you go to ScoreSense, the thing that you are going to find is, notice the language, they say, “You’re more than just one credit score so we give you all three.” If you’ve been to my boot camps, you know that I talk about you have a multitude of credit scores, FAKO and FICO. What they’re talking about is TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Notice what they say. “See what lenders may see.” It doesn’t say, “Check the scores your lenders are going to be checking.” They say, “Monthly updates to your three credit scores or reports from all three credit bureaus show you where you stand.”
Because it’s downloaded, the data in ScoreSense and any monitoring services on the planet. They download the legitimate data from Experian, TransUnion, Equifax but then they apply the fake score. It seems like they’re saying, “You get three credit scores and reports from all three bureaus.” As though the report data legitimizes the three fake scores. We’re doing the Math here together because it’s crazy. They’re trying to allude to complete falsehoods and making it look like the truth. This has become so bad that I want to share with you one of the slides that are in the Bootcamp for those of you who haven’t been.You only want your credit scores when it’s time to buy something and only then is a monitoring service even an option for you. Click To Tweet
CFPB is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CFPB orders TransUnion and Equifax to pay for deceiving consumers in marketing credit scores and credit products. Meaning the very things we’re talking about. Three fake scores with legitimate bureau data. On top of that, what does it say? It says, “Credit reporting companies misstated the cost and the usefulness of the credit scores in products they sold and lured consumers in the costly recurring payments.” The whole point of this is ScoreSense is not alone even though I have the most experience with them because they keep calling and complaining about being cheated, being abused or making it too difficult to cancel.
What do I mean by that? The vast majority of all credit monitoring services lure you in. Look at that language, “They were lured consumers and the costly recurring payments.” What that means is that they were being lured by getting a copy of your credit report and credit score for $1. Some offer seven days and some offer that $1 value for fourteen days. If you do not cancel, it automatically goes to $19.95, $29.95, $39 for some. I’ve seen as high as $49 for these monitoring services with fake scores. If you don’t catch it in that week or fourteen days, that automatically goes into recurring billings. The problem is that the phone numbers that are provided on the website are either automated and have circular logic that it doesn’t end up so you can cancel it easily. It’s very difficult for some of these places to even find a place to cancel. What does that do? That pisses off borrowers who were led to believe that for $1, they could get a legitimate score and are angry when these $19, $29, $39, $49 charges keep hitting their accounts.
We have a mess going on in the credit score sellers’ marketplace. Because of these free trials or this $1 trial, it is difficult for unwary, unsophisticated borrowers, especially ones who haven’t been to the bootcamp to understand that they’re being conned by the very ads that they’re attracted to. One, the first belief we have is, “I want to check my credit score.” Like I showed you some of these ads promote, “You don’t have one credit score. You have three. One from each bureau. Get those.” They’re like, “I want the truth about my financial situation.” They’re sold a fake score and then the fine print or the disclaimers are so small and down at the very bottom of a complex website that they don’t know that they have been sold a whole bag of BS.
Two things. One, our credit monitoring services are valuable. In certain circumstances, they can be. If you want the truth about all your credit scores, all 28 of them, you want to go to MyFico.com and get a copy of all your scores. It’s for $29.95 and monitors it there. If you want to save money because you only want your credit scores, when it’s time to buy something only then is a monitoring service even an option for you. You can get a less expensive monitoring service but you want to make sure that what they’re monitoring is any new inquiries. You want to know immediately when an inquiry is and you want to pay preferably having a phone app not just an email notification so that you know when an inquiry. If you didn’t do it, you now know that you’ve got a problem brewing. You want to know what inquiries you might be having. The next best situation is where you can see changes in balances. If somebody steals your card and runs up a charge that isn’t yours, you want to know whether or not your balances have changed.
If you can get these types of things, it’s only 2 out of the 3 Bureaus and information that’s being scored fakely. I don’t mind you using credit karma if you’re looking for inquiries, changes in balances or other movements, opening of accounts on your profile but you need to know that their scores are worthless to you. Know what you’re monitoring for. Don’t trust the scores. The scores are worthless if you are looking for score intel. If you want to use a credit monitoring service that gives you all of those important features of monitoring, inquiries, new accounts, changes in balances etc., but you want to pay a lower price, look at other credit monitoring services, but don’t trust the numbers. There are FAKO and FICO scores. Remember, there are also FICO scores that are approval scores and there are review scores.Don’t trust the scores. The scores are worthless if you are looking for score intel. Click To Tweet
If you go to Experian, you’re going to see what’s called FICO Score 8. That’s the trade brand name of a review score. It’s not your outer score, mortgage score or bank card score. It’s not going to be used for approvals but if you’re looking for your true whole collection of FICO scores, both review and approval scores, that’s what myFICO is for. There are other groups out there that you can use. Some of them are monitored or give you the scores they give you or the FICO review scores. That’s way better than FAKO scores but they’re still not the approval scores that are going to be used to approve your mortgages, automobiles and national bank cards. I never said credit monitoring is worthless. I say, know what you’re monitoring and if you want scores that you can depend on that are used by lenders, you’ll only find those at MyFICO.com. There are other scores that use myFICO Score 8. If it has that FICO trademark, remember those are review scores. That gives you a general idea but they’re not used by lenders for approvals.
Some of those costs are even less money than the FICO. If you’re looking for updates on inquiries, account balances, you can use other monitoring services, but the scores are FAKO scores, they’re completely worthless and we don’t want anything to do with them. Once again, The Truth You Trust, you read it here first. There is a massive difference between types of scores. All the bureau data is going to be pretty similar because they’re all downloading for the big three, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The data is likely to be identical. The score is the one you can either trust or not trust. It is a delight and a pleasure to spend this time with you. We will see you.