Help Decide the Future of Aging. Join the White House’s Live Stream Today. Learn more


You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation

Contests and

AARP’s Superstar
2015 Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


My Two Cents

Find Your True Credit Score

Getting an accurate number can be tricky — here's how to make sure you really know your credit rating

Dear Liz: I bought my credit score from one of the big-three credit bureaus, but when I applied for a loan I learned my "real" score was much lower. Why are the bureaus allowed to sell fake scores?

Liz Pulliam Weston

Personal finance columnist, Liz Weston blogs at — Photo by Art Streiber

Many consumers don't realize there's more than one credit-scoring formula. In addition to the well-known FICO score, each of the three credit-reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — sells so-called consumer-education scores. Then there's VantageScore, a FICO rival developed by all three bureaus that uses a scale ranging up to 990 points (the top FICO is 850). Critics often call these upstarts "FAKO" scores, because most lenders currently judge your creditworthiness using the FICO.

See also: Don't fall for free credit report scams.

The bureaus say a credit score is a credit score, so it doesn't matter which one you get. But it matters to them: When bureaus sell their own scores, they don't pay royalties to the Fair Isaac Corporation, which owns the proprietary FICO formula. Fortunately for consumers, a law that takes effect July 21 will clarify the difference among the scores. The new regulations say that if you don't get the best terms on a loan, credit card, insurance policy, or utility service, you must be shown — for free — the score used to judge you. And most scores revealed will be some version of the FICO.

Next: How to get insurance when your credit score is low. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.