Finally, the US consumer is close to winning one. The US Senate has just passed an amendment that would give consumers free access to their credit scores under certain circumstances, such as denial of a loan or a job due to your credit score. (This is currently the law for credit reports.) If passed by the House, it would go into law as part of the Wall Street reform package. As happy as I am about this progress, it doesn’t go far enough.

Why Should We Pay for Credit Scores?
Frankly, I don’t believe consumers should pay for access to credit reports or credit scores. Lenders already pay for the data, which they use to make business decisions. Meanwhile, consumers are also required to pay for credit scores and additional credit reports, even though they’re based on OUR DATA, and influence our financial lives. In some cases, they also affect our job prospects.

Free Credit Reports All the Time
I realize that this would put those “free credit report” sites out of business, but as far as I’m concerned, consumers should have free access to their credit reports all the time, not just once a year as the government requires. Can you imagine a bank only allowing access to your account statement once a year? Credit reports aren’t that different, given the frequency with which they can change.

Free Credit Scores All the Time
Credit scores are almost more important than credit reports this time. When we were applying for mortgages, the lenders pulled our credit reports and scores. Yes, they looked at the reports, but the most important factor in preapproval was our credit scores. The rest of the report didn’t come into play until we entered escrow and the full mortgage application process.

Credit Scores Should Be Included with Annual Credit Reports
When I log into annualcreditreport.com to download my report for a specific bureau, the FICO score for that report should also be displayed. Not the Vantage Score or whatever other fake scores the credit bureaus are trying to profit off of. The FICO score is the only score that matters, and that’s the one I want.

The free scores for denials of credit or employment are a good start. That’s where the free credit report system started. But it doesn’t go far enough. If you agree, write your Senators and your Representative and ask them to take it to the next step. They know what I’m saying is true, but until voter anger outweighs credit bureau lobbying money, it’s not going to happen. And that, folks, makes me a little bit stabby.

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