This week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that more than 50 million consumers now have free and regular access to their credit scores through their monthly credit card statements or online.
Last year, the CFPB launched a credit score initiative, which called on more of the nation's top credit card companies to make credit scores freely available to their customers. The Bureau 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," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Access to these scores provides an opportunity to engage consumers around their credit reports. 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 provide reports on consumers that are used to decide whether to provide credit to consumers. Credit reports and scores can determine everything from consumer eligibility for credit to the rates consumers pay for credit. Because of the significance of these reports, consumer reporting companies have been a major focus for the CFPB. Recent research conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia shows that when consumers became familiar with their credit reports, their credit scores often improved continuously over time.
One year after the CFPB launched the credit score initiative, well more than a dozen major issuers are providing credit scores directly and freely to consumers. A few companies had begun offering access to credit scores prior to the CFPB initiative. Now, at least 50 million consumers have already had the opportunity to see their credit scores, and tens of millions of consumers will benefit by planned efforts by other major issuers this year. The CFPB is encouraging all Americans to review their credit standing and pull their free annual credit report at annualcreditreport.com.
The CFPB publishes and updates a list of the names and contact information for nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies. The list makes it easier for consumers to see who is collecting what information about them. The list also tells consumers about the importance of checking these reports and keeping tabs on their personal credit reports. It gives them instructions for accessing their personal reports and information on when is the best time to do so. Throughout the list, there are links to Bureau resources that help consumers get answers to frequently asked questions. The Bureau encourages consumers to check their personal credit reports regularly, which can often be done for free.
The list of consumer reporting agencies can be found here:
The CFPB has also published a document for consumers called Check Your Credit Report.