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Free Credit Scores—Really

Is it possible? A really free credit score?

Some sites promise a free credit score, but only as part of a “free trial” of another product such as a credit-monitoring service. If you don’t cancel the trial in time, your credit card is charged.

Now you can get that magic number absolutely free from Credit Karma and Quizzle. You will have to sign up and provide personal information, including your Social Security number. If you try both sites, you may notice a difference in the scores you get. That’s because Quizzle gives you the Experian score, and Credit Karma the TransUnion score. These two credit-reporting bureaus use slightly different calculation methods.

“Remember that these free scores are not FICO scores,” says Curtis Arnold, CEO of CardRatings.com. “The FICO score, developed by Fair Isaac Corp., is still the Cadillac of credit scores and is the one that most lenders use. These free scores may give you a false sense of security.”

Equifax and TransUnion will also send you your FICO score—but not for free.

Cathie Gandel is a freelance writer based in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

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