FICO Expands Program To Give Millions Of Consumers Free Access To Credit Scores & Reports

Millions of financially struggling consumers who work with qualified nonprofit counseling agencies now have access to free credit scores and credit reports with the expansion of the FICO Score Open Access program.

FICO announced today that it reached an agreement with Experian – one of the three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs) along with Equifax and TransUnion – to allow millions of consumers who receive nonprofit credit counseling, housing counseling, and other services to obtain a copy of the FICO score that these organizations have purchased.

Under the current program, counseling organizations have been generally prohibited by contracts with CRAs to give their consumers the credit report or score that was purchased on the client’s behalf.

According to the CFPB, the no-sharing policy is common practice by business users of credit reports and scores, but when applied to consumer counseling it limits a consumer’s ability to manager or improve their credit standing.

The expanded program – now known as FICO Score Open Access for Credit & Financial Counseling – aims to aid consumers who have credit management problems by providing their credit scores along with credit education materials designed to help consumers understand credit scoring and learn about responsible financial health management.

FICO says it began exploring the expansion of the program after being approached by the CFPB about concerns regarding restrictions on consumers’ access to credit information and urged the company and CRAs remove restrictions.

“Because of FICO’s longstanding commitment to consumer financial education, when the CFPB approached us about enabling credit and financial counselors to share FICO Scores they purchase with their clients, we recognized the importance of working with our data partners to make it happen,” the company says in a statement.

While the CFPB says in a statement that it is “encouraged by this positive step,” the policy change has no affect on individual contracts between CRAs and counseling organizations that still prohibit the sharing of credit reports with clients.

“Ending restrictions on sharing credit scores and reports by consumer financial counseling organizations will empower consumers to take more control of managing their credit and help counselors to do their jobs more effectively,” the CFPB says.

Millions of consumers will now have access to credit scores and reports through nonprofit counselors [CFPB]
FICO Makes FICO® Scores Available to Financially Struggling Consumers Through Non-Profit Credit and Financial Counselors [FICO]