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New opportunities to review your credit

Recently, three new websites have popped up that allow a consumer to review his or her own credit.  Each of these sites is completely free to use, and although they do not provide credit scores as found on the pay sites, the information available and the opportunity to review one's own credit are definitely an enhancement.

For each of these sites, below is a review intended to provide you with the best current information about them, and to allow those who wish to view their credit an idea of what is available at no expense.


The three sites are Quizzle.com, Creditkarma.com and credit.com

First, a review of Quizzle.com: 

Viewing your own credit profile is easy. There's no score in the traditional sense, but they do give you an idea of what your score might be if you were to view your full report.  They also grade your credit, your budget, your home value, your mortgage and your "rainy day fund" (based on your own input for some of these).

Quizzle is in partnership with Experian, one of the major credit reporting agencies, and you can obtain a copy of your Experian report when you sign up, if you wish.  As a subscriber to Quizzle, you can obtain a free updated credit report every 6 months along with a Quizzle score.

On this site you do not need to enter your Social Security number.  The information you submit when you register is used to determine your identity and locate your credit report.  If you have a common name or some other characteristic that coincides with someone else and a duplicate report match is found, they may ask you for your Social Security number to authenticate the right report.

Based on knowledge of the real estate marketplace in Bloomfield - which is in fairly good shape, actually - along with a new assessed value by my the local Assessor's office, it appears that the value assigned to my home by Quizzle is low by about $20,000, which is not an unfair assessment of the value overall.

Amazingly, the credit profile on Credit.com is completely different than with Quizzle.  That seems quite peculiar, but this site may be a tad behind the times.  As with Quizzle, Credit.com is also tied in with one of the major credit agencies - this one is aligned with Trans Union.

The information received back is pretty accurate, though it appears that a couple of things may not have been reported yet (yes, most of us have had our own issues with making payments in the recent past).  It's showing me here that my credit is "excellent."  A few months ago, I would have agreed, but now I think I'd have to call it "good" instead.

On this site, there is no score assigned, but they tell you what their rating correlates to in terms of a score. For example, excellent is considered in the range from 750-850; good is 740-799; fair is 670-739; poor is 611-669; and bad is 300-609.  What happened to 610 isn't apparent; it simply doesn't appear on their charts.

The way they break down the report is definitely a benefit.   They provide you with an analysis of all five of the elements of your score: payment history; debt usage; credit age; account mix; inquiries. In each case, there's a description of how to better handle your accounts, etc. to maximize your score overall.

They allow you to update yourself every 30 days.

Finally, on Creditkarma.com you are able to check to see if you have bad karma or good karma.  Please keep in mind that John Lennon warned us that "instant karma's gonna get you."

This site is also aligned with Trans Union, just as Credit.com is.  But where Credit.com indicated (for me) that I have a wonderful credit history, my "karma" is only satisfactory.  How two sites with such a common source can be so different is somewhat baffling.

There is a very nice feature - a bar graph that shows how credit scores break down nationally.  For example, 5.7% of scores are between 800 and 850; 15.9% are between 750 and 799; 17% are between 700 and 749; 13.9% are between 650 and 699; 12% between 600 and 649; 9.6% between 550 and 599; 7.9% between 500 and 549; 6.5% between 450 and 499; 5.4% between 400 and 449; 4.2% between 350 and 399; 2.1% between 300 and 349.  It may be way too much information for most people, but it does provide a nice way to get an idea of where you stand individually.

It is rather nice to learn that only 2.1% of our population has the lowest of scores.  It tells us, overall, that the desire to educate and provide insight to credit users has been somewhat effective.  Though there remains plenty of ground to cover, it's apparent that understanding of credit has been enhanced in recent years.

You also have the opportunity to click on a link that gives you a "grade" in the following areas: (1) credit card utilization (the less you use your card(s), the better; (2) percent of on-time payments; (3) average age of open credit lines (the older the better); (4) total accounts (a "healthy mix" of cards, loans, mortgages is best); (5) hard credit inquiries (they analyze the last 2 years and the fewer the better); (6) total debt (they add up all your balances); (7) debt to income ratio (if you tell them your income, they'll calculate it).

There is also a credit simulator, which you can use to plug in a credit event and see how it affects your score. It didn't seem to be altogether useful, however.  A review posted elsewhere thought it quite helpful. Perhaps it is, for others, but it wasn't all that helpful in this corner.

With this site, you can update your score as often as you'd like.  Obviously, if you're trying to achieve an increase in score, this is a benefit you may wish to take advantage of.

In sum, Credit.com seems to provide the best overall picture of one's credit report.  The least impressive of the three is Quizzle.com.  Each certainly has good features, and it's not harmful to check all three if you are interested.  Perhaps Credit.com looks the best because it reports the "feel-good" results, but we're trying to be impartial here.

The best part of all three sites is that they are truly, 100% free.  You do not need to do anything except sign up.  It appears that there are additional services you can purchase, but given what can be done for free, there doesn't appear that anything that must be purchased would be the pain and the trouble.

No matter what else you do, it's always worthwhile to go to Annualcreditreport.com to check your actual reports.  You'll want to look out for any errors that could adversely affect you.  The credit agencies are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months through this site, which is the only authorized site by the credit agencies themselves.
 

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