Fake Credit Score?? Equifax Goes Fake-o

I just got this email below from collegue and mentor of mine about what is going on with “fake credit scores”. I don’t want to say much let Stephen, explain it detail.

Carlos Samaniego


Equifax Goes Fake-o

Equifax couldn’t hold out. The greed of the almighty dollar finally found its way to Atlanta.

Temptation got the best of them.

Equifax has recently joined Experian and TransUnion in the business of marketing their own proprietary credit scores (translation: FAKE scores) to unknowing consumers who think they’re buying real FICO credit scores.


Here’s the good news… it’s very clear they are not selling a FICO score (if you search for the web page that explains it). To get that information out of the other two, you basically need to beat it out of them.

Here’s what they say…

Equifax Credit Score vs FICO Score:
What is the difference between the Equifax
Credit Score™ and the FICO® Score?

Both the Equifax Credit Score and the FICO Score are general-purpose score models used to predict credit risk. The Equifax Credit Score is a proprietary model created by Equifax. The FICO Score is a model created by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) for Equifax’s use. All Equifax consumer services and tools make use of the Equifax Credit Scores unless otherwise indicated. The Equifax Credit Score uses a numerical range of 280 to 850, where higher scores indicate lower credit risk. The FICO Score uses a numerical range of 300 to 850, where higher scores also indicate lower credit risk. The Equifax Credit Score can be used to calculate a score for not only your Equifax credit file, but also your Experian and TransUnion credit files. This gives you the ability to compare your credit scores across all three credit reporting agencies, which is a very important part of understanding your credit. Though both score models predict similar types of risk, it is important to remember that because they were created independently by separate companies, they should not be expected to deliver identical scores. In some cases, an Equifax Credit Score and a FICO Score calculated at the same point in time may be similar. However, in some scenarios the scores may differ, perhaps significantly, based on how the different models calculate risk.

Here’s what they left out…very few (if any) of your lenders care about or use the Equifax Credit Score. That’s selective omission if you ask me.

What this means to you and me is…more confusion.

What it means to Equifax is…more money.

I’m all for making money…but not at the expense of doing the right thing.

I don’t know how they sleep at night.

How can these companies get away
with selling fake credit scores?

Less than 5% of the population even knows what a real credit score is.

We performed an on-the-street survey in downtown Indianapolis a few years back asking people if they knew what their credit scores were. 2.3% of the people interviewed knew…the others were clueless.

All three credit reporting agencies now take advantage of this consumer ignorance. Without it…they wouldn’t have a sustainable business model.

That’s right, the credit reporting agencies profit on our stupidity…Experian much more than anyone else. You see, they bank on the fact that when someone uses the term “credit score” we’ll think it actually means a credit score that a lender uses…silly us.

The FTC last year came out with an impressive counter-punch to one of Experian’s fake credit score websites. They created and aired two accurate videos. You can watch them here…



Although they are somewhat funny and true…the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t have the marketing budget to promote the truth like Experian can promote fake scores and other useless services.

So what can we learn from this?

  1. The only scores you need to know are your FICO scores, created by Fair Isaac Corporation, which are available at the myFICO sites (for information about these two different sites, go to: www.stephensnyder.com/yourficos).
  2. If the score(s) you purchase don’t say FICO, they are fake-o.
  3. The majority of lenders in the United States use FICO credit scores to make a lending decision…not proprietary scores created by the credit reporting agencies.
  4. Stay away from all fancy-pants services that include a free credit score. If a score is free, it’s probably fake. The real ones cost you some George Washington’s.
  5. You cannot monitor all three of your real FICO credit scores. You can only monitor your FICO score from Equifax. Real score monitoring from the other two credit reporting agencies isn’t available.
  6. Your real credit scores are not included on your free credit reports.

Consumer beware.

Stephen's Signature

Credit Report Card: A Truly Free Look at Your Credit Record


Crcsnapshot If you are looking to get an easy to undertand excutive snapshot of your credit anytime, no cost, or negative markes for checking. Take a look at this great resource.

Carlos Samaniego

In early 2009, Credit.com contracted me to blog for them after they read a post I wrote on Boing Boing about my unpleasant experience with freecreditreport.com.

Today, Credit.com launched a new and truly free online tool called Credit Report Card, which gives you an easy-to-understand snapshot of your credit report, along with estimated scores from the different reporting agencies. It clearly shows you how your credit score was calculated, along with suggested steps for taking action in each of the five main areas that make up your credit ratings. It does a great job of clearing up the mystery of credit scores and has made me more conscious of how my financial behavior and decisions affect my credit score.

Side note: This kind of transparency is terrific — I hate it when giant institutions have information about me that I don’t have ready access to. That’s why I ran a how-to article on making a magnetic card stripe reader in Make magazine, which I edit. People should be allowed to see what kind of information is being stored on their own credit cards!

Above is a screenshot of what Credit.com’s Credit Report Card looks like. It’s my own credit report card. (I’m only showing the top part of the report card, as I don’t want to share my personal data) As you can see, I have excellent credit :), but I’ve made too many “Inquiries” in the past year, which has knocked my overall rating down a bit.

Interestingly, the day after I generated my Credit Report Card, I went to Macy’s to buy a gift for my wife. The sales clerk wanted me to apply for a Macy’s credit card, promising all sorts of discounts on this and future purchases. If I hadn’t used Credit Report Card, I might have taken her up on the offer, which might have damaged my credit rating. So this tool has come in handy already.

The FAQ for Credit Report Card (linked from the front page) will answer the most obvious questions (executive summary = it’s free; using it won’t affect your credit score; you can request a new report card every 30 days; there are no strings attached; and the data you provide to generate your report will not be used for any other purpose).

Give Credit Report Card a try, and let me know what you think of it!

by: Mark Frauenfelder – Editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine and the founder of the popular Boing Boing weblog, Mark was an editor at Wired from 1993-1998 and is the founding editor of Wired Online.