The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has called on credit card companies to give customers free copies of their credit scores. The agency is not mandating this; but it did send a letter to top executives at the largest U.S. issuers, requesting that they make the scores available in customers’ monthly statements or online. “Making consumers’ credit scores freely available on their monthly statement or online makes it easier for them to spot problems with their credit report,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray.
Some companies already are providing the scores on their own, and others may be in the process of doing so. Discover began to offer free FICO scores to users of its “Discover it” cards in November. Barclaycard and First Bankcard also started to provide free FICO scores last fall. These ratings fall on a 300- to 850-point scale and are used in most lending decisions. FICO, which recently launched an “open access” program to make it easier for lenders to provide free scores to consumers, said it was negotiating with several other issuers.
Many consumer advocates are pleased with the CFPB's actions. “Consumers shouldn’t have to pay to find out their credit score,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. She pointed out that the scores consumers sometimes buy are not necessarily the ones used by lenders.