These days there are hundreds of sites offering free credit scores but can they introduce the user to a scam? There are thousands of ways to get your credit score, and it’s becoming more and more popular. Some of the largest sites that come to mind are creditkarma and creditsesame.
Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of these sites has also given way to a rise in scamming. While many of the sites themselves will give you a credit score without any fraud attempts, they are also rife with outside scammers preying on people who use the sites. The most common way this is done is through a technique called “phishing “. This is where criminals will impersonate one of the legitimate credit sites through email, and direct you to a site they’ve made that collects your personal info.
For example, I recently tested one of the sites and signed up to get a free credit score. Shortly after, I received an email from a scammer stating my score had changed; redirecting me to check it at a completely different site that asked for my personal information. U.S. News recently did something similar, and received over 140 emails with the subject “score change” in them. Had I actually followed those instructions, some criminal would have valuable information allowing him/her to commit fraud and identity theft.
What makes this problem even worse is that these free credit sites often use the free credit scores to entice people to the site as a “loss leader”, and offer other products (like credit monitoring) to make a profit. That means that the scam emails can be easily confused as legitimate offers from the sites. That is why (among other reasons) I recommend a credit monitoring product to help protect/minimize against fraud/ID theft and alert you if scammers get a hold of your information. In addition, these free scores are unfortunately not the same as the ones bankers will see.