CFPB: More than 50M have access to free credit score

02/27/2015

CFPB: More than 50M have access to free credit score

WASHINGTON – Feb. 23, 2015 – According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), more than 50 million consumers now have free and regular access to their credit scores through their monthly credit card statements or online.

The CFPB also released a new consumer focus group study indicating that while consumers are accessing their credit scores and credit reports in a variety of ways, confusion about both persists. 

"Consumers' credit information is the foundation of their financial lives," says CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Once consumers see their credit scores, they can be motivated to learn more about their credit history, check their full credit report and take action to improve their financial lives." 

Consumer reporting companies collect information and create reports on consumers. Businesses, such as banks, use those reports' credit scores to decide everything from consumer eligibility for a loan, to the interest rate that consumer will pay if approved.

One year after the CFPB launched a credit score initiative, more than a dozen major issuers are providing credit scores directly to consumers for free. Now, at least 50 million consumers have the opportunity to see their credit scores, and tens of millions more are expected to be added as more credit companies offer credit score info later this year.

While credit reports don't usually list an actual score, U.S. residents already have access to a free report once per year. It can be requested online at annualcreditreport.com.

To better understand consumers' perspectives on credit reports and scores, the CFPB recently conducted focus groups with consumers from diverse backgrounds across the country. The CFPB asked whether consumers checked their credit scores and reports, how they did it, and what motivated them to check it. Key takeaways from the research include: 

  • Consumers access reports and scores multiple ways: Some consumers read their score on their credit card statement, or were able to review it through their credit card company. Others reported receiving their credit reports in other ways, such as a paid credit monitoring service, a free online service, as a result of a security breach or after being denied credit. 
  • Consumer confusion around credit reports and scores persists: Some consumers were confused about how to check credit reports and scores, what information they include and how to improve them.
  • Consumers don't understand how to improve credit histories: Consumers said they often don't feel empowered to take action to improve their credit histories, and they rarely apply credit information in their daily lives, such as using their credit reports and scores to negotiate better credit terms. 
  • Consumers engaged in the financial system check their credit reports regularly: Consumers who reported feeling financially savvy and knowledgeable about their credit files, credit terms and interest rates were more likely to say they check their reports regularly

More details about this research is on CFPB's website.

The CFPB has also published a document for consumers called "Check Your Credit Report

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