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Apply and get a free credit score

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Starting July 21, if a creditor uses a credit score to offer credit at less-than-favorable terms, deny credit or adjust the rate on extending credit, it must reveal the score they used along with other information related to the score.

Consumers will receive a notice outlining the range of possible credit scores, key factors that hurt the score, the date the score was pulled and the name of the agency that provided it.

The Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday laid out the final rules regarding the credit score disclosure requirements in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The new rules enhance earlier requirements that have been in effect since the beginning of the year. Those required creditors to provide consumers with a more generic risk-based pricing notice if they were granted credit on worse terms than other consumers.

The risk-based pricing notice included the definition of a credit report, how the creditor used the information in the report, how to fix mistakes in the report, how to get a copy of a report and where to find more information about credit reports. As an alternative, creditors could supply consumers with a credit score disclosure notice.

If the consumer was denied credit or given unfavorable terms as an applicant or existing customer, creditors sent the consumer an adverse action notice that didn't contain a free credit score. Under the final rules, consumers would receive their free scores if they were denied credit or granted credit at less-than-ideal terms than other consumers.

Consumer advocates are cheering the changes because they offer a learning experience for consumers with poorer credit scores and histories.

"Consumers will be able to 'get to know' their credit score and perhaps investigate the root causes of their score by ordering a free copy of their credit report," says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for watchdog group Consumer Action.

"If errors are to blame, they might be more likely to correct them. If the negative info is accurate, perhaps they will look for ways to improve their credit," Sherry says.

Still, Sherry believes the changes should have also included transactions with insurance and telecom companies, which use credit scores or credit-based scores to determine deposits or set premiums.

In the meantime, you can check your free credit report and learn where to get a free credit score.

Chime in: Do you support the changes?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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