At Credit Karma, once people see that we're really free, they usually follow up with questions like, "Are these my real scores?" or "Is the information on Credit Karma accurate?" After all, what good is free information if it's not correct, right?
Let's dive into the common questions we get regarding the accuracy of your data on Credit Karma.
Where do you get your information?
All of the scores and credit report information you see on Credit Karma come directly from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major credit bureaus. This means a couple of things:
- The scores we provide are real credit scores pulled from major credit bureaus, not just estimates of your credit rating. (This, by the way, is one of the reasons why we ask for your social security number and other sensitive information when you create an account--so we can match you up to what the bureaus have on file for you.)
- Credit Karma isn't a credit bureau or credit reporting agency. We don't gather information from creditors, and creditors don't report directly to Credit Karma.
Why are my scores from Credit Karma different from scores I got somewhere else?
As mentioned earlier, we pull your scores directly from TransUnion and Equifax. But did you know that you don't have just one score? That's one of the biggest credit myths we aim to dispel here at Credit Karma.
One reason why you have many scores is that the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) occasionally can have differing information about you. Errors on credit reports are actually fairly common, and even if one bureau has your information completely correct, there's no guarantee that the other two bureaus do too. In addition, some lenders may only report to one or two bureaus, not all three. Different information can understandably result in different scores. Lastly, each credit bureau uses many different scoring models that take into account dozens of factors of your credit report. Because the models emphasize different aspects of your credit history, you can sometimes get different scores from the same bureau, even though they're based on the same information.
Are these my FICO scores?
You may have read reviews that say the scores Credit Karma provides are useless or deceiving because they're "FAKO" (not FICO) scores. However, it's important to keep in mind that there are dozens of different FICO models alone--49 at last count. Even if you got a FICO score, it may not necessarily match the score your lender pulls when you apply for a loan.
At Credit Karma, we believe that because you have so many different scores, the number you get isn't of foremost importance--what really matters is the changes that you observe over time in a single score, and where that number puts you in relation to other consumers. By using Credit Karma to monitor your score over time, you can have an easy point of reference to gauge your credit health.
What should I do if I see incorrect information on Credit Karma?
If Credit Karma is showing you incorrect information, it's usually for one of two reasons. First of all, it could be because your creditors have not reported up to date information to the bureaus. Creditors typically report your updated account data to credit bureaus once a month, so seeing old balances, payment activity and credit utilization rates is pretty common, and unfortunately something you'll just need to wait out. We understand this is frustrating, so we created a way for you to connect your accounts and see a side-by-side comparison of your reported and current balances.
If the incorrect information is more than a month old, this could indicate that your credit report contains inaccurate or outdated information about your credit history. In this case, we recommend viewing your full credit report, reviewing it carefully and disputing any errors you see directly with the credit bureaus.
Part of the reason why we created Credit Karma is to facilitate credit history transparency for our members. If you see incorrect information about your credit profile on our site, this could clue you in to a bigger issue. We highly recommend disputing any errors you find, as some inaccuracies may be unjustly hurting your score. Then, come back to Credit Karma frequently to see how your credit score can change over time.
About the Author: Jenna Lee is Credit Karma's Social Media Manager. Although her specialty lies in creating witty post-it notes, she also enjoys sharing all the financial information she's learned since joining Credit Karma in February 2012. When she's not working, you can probably find her trying out a new dessert recipe or learning/perfecting any musical instrument she can get her hands on. Say "hi" @leejennaa!
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Advertiser Disclosure: We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.
Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.
Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.