Consumer groups push for free credit scores

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a number everyone should know, but few adults check: your credit score. It’s helps you borrow by telling lenders and landlords how likely you are to repay loans and make those payments on time. That number, your score, is based on your credit report — a financial history of how you’ve paid your bills and how much debt you have.

It usually costs money to learn your credit score. But consumers can get a free look at their credit report online at AnnualCreditReport.com. Still according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, only about one-fifth of American adults look at that information every year.

Millions of Americans have errors on their credit reports; those errors could deduct from your score, and cost you money in the long run by keeping you from qualifying for a low-interest loan.

“It’s important for consumers to monitor their credit report, no ifs ands or buts. Just do it. It’s free. Even if you don’t have good credit you want to make sure what on that actually belongs to you,” said Milagros Johnson, with Springfield’s Office of Consumer Information.

Consumer advocates believe many of those errors could be disputed and fixed if people had regular, free access to scores. But the banking industry isn’t on board; It would cost them money, which they’d then hand to you.

“Let’s say the bank has a million customers. Let’s say they strike a deal with the credit reporting agency where each credit score will be a dollar a person. That’s a million dollars that has to be paid in some way shape or form,” said Thom Fox of the BrunoFox Group.

A good credit score is above 680, with the best scores as close to 800 as possible. You can improve your score by paying your bills on time, and paying down your debt.

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