credit cards

Experian pulls FICO score

Thursday, Feb.5
Posted 2 p.m.

Bankrate reporter Leslie McFadden contributed this entry.

On Jan. 15, Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, notified Fair Isaac that it was ending its contract with myFICO.com. Effective Feb. 14, consumers can no longer purchase their Experian FICO credit scores and reports through myFICO.com.

What it means
Lenders and businesses can still purchase the score -- it's consumers who lose on this one. Unless your bank provides an Experian FICO score, after Feb. 13, you can check only two of your existing FICO scores. Happy Valentine's Day.

At a time when consumers might see negative changes to their credit card accounts because of a drop in their FICO score, limiting consumer access to their own credit ratings seems unfair.

As a press release from Fair Isaac points out, "Lenders usually tap only one consumer reporting agency, except in the case of mortgage lenders. So without access to all three FICO scores, you have at best an incomplete picture of your credit standing."

Access to your Experian credit report remains unchanged. You can still obtain your free Experian credit report once every 12 months through www.annualcreditreport.com or buy it through Experian. Experian will continue selling its PLUS Score and VantageScore to consumers, but these are not the FICO scores used by lenders.

The products on myFICO.com that include Experian credit reports and scores will change as follows: FICO Standard and Suze Orman's FICO kit will no longer offer an Experian credit report or score, and FICO Credit Complete will disappear from the Web site. Consumers who already bought these products will be able to view their Experian information until access expires under the original terms.

Why this happened
A Q&A provided on myFICO.com says only that Experian's "reasons are not clear to us at this time and we do not believe it appropriate to speculate."

Experian did not return a phone call for comment. We will post a response if we receive one.

Please send questions
On a separate note, I've started a new column called Credit Card Adviser. I tackle one new reader question every week about credit cards or credit scores. Submit a query by going to the "Ask the Experts" page, and select the topic "Credit cards." I'll be glad you did.

Comments? Questions? E-mail us at Plastic_Rap@Bankrate.com.

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