You don’t have to pay for your credit report. Do this instead


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TransUnion is one of the “Big 3” credit bureaus that compile your credit history – which has a big impact on your credit score. This week, the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau sued TransUnion for “deceitful digital dark patterns to profit from customers.”


Those dark patterns included an unnecessary requirement: Enter your credit card number if you want to access your credit report. Since federal law requires TransUnion (and its competitors Equifax and Experian) to offer those for free, there’s no reason to enter your credit card – unless you wanted to pressure those customers to buy something.


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TransUnion then “integrated deceptive buttons” into its website. Clicking on those buttons makes you believe you’re getting a free report.

“In reality, clicking this button signed customers up for recurring monthly charges using the credit card information they had provided,” the CFPB said in a statement.


If you realized your mistake and wanted to cancel those monthly charges, that wasn’t easy.


“For consumers looking for a way out of their subscriptions, TransUnion not only failed to offer a simple mechanism for cancellation, it actively made it arduous for consumers to cancel through clever uses of font and color on its website,” the CFPB said.


Concluded CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, “TransUnion is an out-of-control repeat offender that believes it is above the law. I am concerned that TransUnion’s leadership is either unwilling or incapable of operating its businesses lawfully.”


Those harsh words come after years of negotiation with TransUnion, which followed more than 150,000 customer complaints. Back in 2017, the CFPB settled similar charges with TransUnion – and the company agreed to pay nearly $14 million in restitution to its customers. In May 2019, however, the CFPB found the company was “violating multiple requirements” of the settlement. In June 2020,  the CFPB says it “informed TransUnion that it was still violating the order and engaged in additional violations of law.”


In a statement of its own, TransUnion calls the CFPB’s lawsuit “meritless.”


“We have been in compliance with our obligations, and we remain in compliance,” TransUnion says. The company then accuses the CFPB of “unrealistic and unworkable demands,” although it doesn’t specify what those are.


When asked his opinion about the lawsuit, chairman Howard Dvorkin said whatever happens, it won’t happen soon.

“The wheels of justice never spin very fast,” Dvorkin says. “From a customer perspective, the settlement was the best way to go, because it returned money to hardworking Americans and stopped any deceptive practices. But if TransUnion truly ignored the terms of that settlement, then the CFPB really has no other option.”


In the meantime, Dvorkin says the best defense is…an ever better defense.


“Remember, you can access your credit reports free each year from each of those Big 3 credit bureaus,” Dvorkin says. “Never, ever be persuaded to spend a dime on any other service being offered to you. They’re almost always unnecessary. If you need them, better to get a recommendation from a trained counselor like the ones you’d speak with by calling”


If you want to know more about how to get your free credit report, check out our step-by-step guide.


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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5 key differences between credit scores & credit reports


Credit scores have become synonymous with credit reports over the years, but there are some key differences you should know about. For one thing, you might be surprised to find upon reviewing your free credit reports that you won’t see your credit scores on them. Here’s more of what you need to know about the differences between credit scores and credit reports.




The first thing you should understand about the differences between credit reports and credit scores is that they are two different products

Credit reports are generated by credit reporting agencies, also known as credit reporting bureaus or credit reporting companies. There are three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Credit scores, on the other hand, are created by credit scoring companies. The two main credit scoring companies are FICO® and VantageScore®.

The lines between the two different types of companies are blurring, though, as they can partner together. (For example, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion® all worked together to develop VantageScore®, even though it’s an independently run company. The companies also can create their own independent credit scores.) But more on that later.

In the meantime, what you need to know is that credit scores and credit reports are not the same, and you shouldn’t expect to see one of your credit scores when you obtain one of your free credit reports.


You can probably already surmise that you don’t just have one credit report and you don’t have just one credit score. The very fact that there is more than one company for each should make that clear. However, you might be surprised to know just how many of each you have.

Credit reports are simple to number. There are three major credit reporting agencies — therefore everyone has three credit reports. There are also companies that track your banking behavior and create reports on those, but those reports are not the same as your credit reports.

Tracking the number of credit scores you might have, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. Although there are two major credit scoring companies, each one has multiple models of their scores. For example, FICO® has specific credit scores for auto loans as well as specific credit scores for mortgages and other types of credit.

What’s more, as FICO® and VantageScore® update their models, lenders using them don’t always update things on their end. Thus, several models of the same credit score can be in rotation at the same time, making it that much harder to know what score a specific lender might see when running your application for credit.

The main takeaway to understand here is that everyone has multiple credit reports and multiple credit scores, so seeing one doesn’t mean you’ve seen them all. The good news is, credit scores are put into ranges, so if you focus on the range instead of the number, you can have a fairly good idea of the current state of your credit.


There’s a number of ways to see your credit reports, but when you obtain your free annual credit reports from, you won’t see your credit scores on them.

However, some services enable you to see one of your credit scores for free, and from which you can also review items that are on one of your credit reports. For example, if you sign up for Upturn, you can see both your VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion® and individual cards showing each item that’s on your TransUnion® credit report.

You can also pay to see both a version of your credit score and a version of your credit report at the same time. FICO®, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion® all have products that you can pay for to view one of your credit scores as well as items from one or more of your credit reports (along with other services, such as alerts to changes on the scores and reports they’re showing you).




Credit scores and credit reports may be two different products, but that doesn’t mean they don’t relate to one another. In fact, the information on your credit reports will help to determine your credit scores.

When you pull up your credit reports, you’ll see specific information on each financial account you hold. That information includes your balances, your payment history, the length of time you’ve had those accounts, and so on. All of these heavily influence your credit scores.

The information above can be derived from your credit reports, which is why it’s so important to review them and ensure their accuracy regularly.


Johnny Greig/istockphoto


So, what can you do if your credit reports aren’t accurate? You can dispute them. Unfortunately, you can’t dispute your credit scores — but getting your credit reports corrected will affect change on your credit scores. Remember, they’re different products, but the information on your credit reports will be used to determine your credit scores.

If you see a mistake on your credit reports, you can dispute the mistake through the credit reporting agency showing that mistake. You can also use free tools from different companies (including Upturn, which helps you find and dispute mistakes on your TransUnion® credit report).

Once the dispute is resolved and a change is made to the credit report in question, then your credit scores should reflect that change, though not necessarily right away.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by




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