Are Credit Score Apps Safe to Use?

Are Credit Score Apps Safe to Use? article image.

Through April 20, 2022, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.

Many credit scoring apps are offered by trusted companies and can be safe to use. They may also offer a variety of services and features beyond the ability to check your credit score. As with any online service, though, you'll want to do some due diligence before handing over your personal or payment information to a company you haven't heard of before.

What Do Credit Score Apps Do?

Credit scoring apps let you check one or more of your credit scores. Depending on the app, you may have access to a FICO® Score or VantageScore® credit score, the two main consumer credit scoring models. The score will be based on your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion or Equifax.

Some apps will offer you access to multiple credit scores based on a single credit report, or scores based on more than one of your credit reports. It's normal for information in your credit reports to vary, which can lead to different credit scores—even when the same scoring model is being used.

Because you might not know which report and score a creditor will check, getting a score based on credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies may be helpful. However, your FICO® Score and VantageScore credit scores tend to move in tandem, so if you're looking to get a general sense of where your credit is at, tracking one score may be enough.

In addition to letting you track one or more credit scores, a credit score app may:

  • Send notifications if there's a suspicious change in your credit report or score.
  • Explain the main factors impacting your score.
  • Offer suggestions on how to improve your score.
  • Let you check your credit report.
  • Come with or offer identity theft monitoring services and insurance.

You can find credit score apps from a variety of sources, including the major consumer credit bureaus. For example, the free Experian credit score tool doesn't require a credit card to sign up. The tool also gives you a summary of your credit report.

Are Credit Score Apps Safe?

Many credit scoring apps are safe to use, especially if you're getting them through your bank or one of the credit bureaus. But always be wary of scammers. If a company you haven't heard of asks for your payment or personal information in return for providing a credit score, that may be a sign of a scam. Similarly, if you get an unsolicited email offering you a free credit score or credit report, that could be a phishing attempt.

Scams aside, some credit scoring apps may be cheaper, easier to use or more feature-rich than others. The features, scores and reports they offer or use can also vary depending on the provider.

Legitimate services that are free—and even some paid services—may sell or share your information with other companies. They also may make money when users sign up for financial products through the app. That doesn't mean they're unsafe, but it's important to know how your information may be used.

What Is the Most Accurate Credit Score App?

Most credit scoring apps don't create or determine the score they show you, so they might not be more or less "accurate" than others.

Apps that show you a FICO® Score or VantageScore based on one of your credit reports may purchase or be given your report and score and then share them with you. These are the same scores that many creditors use—although your score may change between the time you check it and a creditor checks it.

As you're comparing programs, consider that:

  • Free credit scoring apps may only include one type of credit score. And they may only offer scores based on one or two of your credit reports.
  • Paid apps may give you access to more types of credit scores, and credit scores based on two or three of your credit reports.
  • Apps may update your score in different intervals, such as daily, monthly, weekly or quarterly.

Be aware that apps that create their own educational scores rather than offering a FICO® Score or VantageScore might not align with the scores that a creditor will use when considering your application.

How Can I Check My Credit Score Safely Online?

There are many free and paid options available that are safe to use. If you want to be certain you're using a safe source, look at:

Many free score providers are banks, credit unions, lenders or credit card issuers. Credit counseling organizations may also be able to share your credit reports and score with you for free.

If you want copies of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus without credit scores, AnnualCreditReport.com is a safe source. Through April 2022, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each bureau once a week.

See What Your Credit Score Can Get You

In addition to offering access to your Experian credit report and a FICO® Score, the free Experian app comes with monitoring and alerts, summaries, online disputes and access to Experian Boost . You can also find credit card and loan offers from our partners. We highlight suggested credit score ranges for each card or lender, making it easier to find offers you may be eligible to get.

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To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through April 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.