Is Credit Karma Free Credit Score a Scam?

is credit karma a scam?
When people first hear about Credit Karma and the free credit scores they provide, the first question that comes to mind is whether or not Credit Karma a scam? They want to know if it’s truly legit. Is it really a “free” credit score or is there a catch to it? It’s a valid question.

There have been a lot of companies in the past that have touted a “free” credit scores, but you must give your credit card information in order to access it, and then get charged if you don’t cancel a promotion before a certain period of time. In this sense, Credit Karma isn’t the same as those, but it’s important to understand that it isn’t necessarily “free” either. There are some definite non financial costs that come with getting your score, mostly in the form of advertising.

Credit Karma is a website that provides financial monitoring and credit tools to help you keep track of your credit score and credit report. There is no cost to use their main services, and they provide a credit score which is generated from the TransUnion credit bureau’s data. They appear to make their money from generating advertising offers from the information you provide rather than charge a fee for their credit tools.

One of the best ways to evaluate a company is to look at the complaints that people have had in the past. Credit Karma currently is in good standing with with an A+ rating at the BBB (it now has a B rating), but there have been a number of common complaints about their service in the past. It’s also important to note that there are a lot of ways you can access your credit score for free without going through a third-party website like Credit Karma.

Requesting Too Much Personal Information

Some users of Credit Karma have complained about the amount of personal information the website requests when you first sign up. While normal credit report websites like TransUnion or Equifax need a lot of information to pull your credit score and financial reports, Credit Karma is a third party site and shouldn’t need most of your personal information. Additionally, because it’s a third party, there’s more of a chance that your information may be shared with additional websites or organizations.

Fluctuating Scores

Some users of have complained about Credit Karma reporting vastly different credit scores over a short period of time. For instance, stating that a user has a score that is 50 points lower than their previous yearly score. Credit scores don’t change that rapidly, and it calls into question how accurate the score you receive from them is to the credit score that businesses see when determining if they will loan you money. If you’re looking for an accurate credit score, request a free annual credit report from annual credit report instead.

Not a FICO Score

While Credit Karma provides you with a free credit score, the score it gives you is a FAKO score, not a FICO score. Your FICO score is what non-third party credit report sites like TransUnion or Experian provide, and what most financial institutions or credit companies ask for when you’re trying to take out a loan or get a new credit card. The FAKO score is an estimate of what your FICO score is, and because it isn’t what your actual FICO score is, it may give you a score that is either above or below your true FICO score. Since this number can be significantly different that what businesses pulling your credit score will see, the score really can’t be trusted as accurate when making big financial decisions that rely on your credit score.

Retained Information

Credit Karma has also been criticized for retaining customer information after accounts are deactivated. When a person no longer wants their account to be active, the account is deactivated, but not deleted. In this case the website keeps all its former users’ personal information. While many websites retain information after you delete an account, most of those sites don’t have access to your credit score or other sensitive financial information. For someone who is wary of allowing a third party access to their information, this may be a good reason not to use Credit Karma’s services.

So, is Credit Karma a scam? No. It’s a for profit business that takes your information to put advertising in front of you and try to sell you products. It’s a trade off. You don’t have to pay to see your credit score, but you have to endure advertising instead while giving up your information to a third-party. If you still want to try Credit Karma you can sign up here.

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41 Responses to Is Credit Karma Free Credit Score a Scam?

  1. laurie66 says:

    Why does anyone need Credit Karma? I get my free credit report from each credit bureaus through and then my credit score each month with my credit card bill.

  2. david says:

    I don’t think that Credit Karma is a scam, but it’s a services that’s not needed as much as it once was. More and more financial institutions are giving away free credit scores as a way to lure customers to their brand like Discover. I read banks may start offering free credit scores as well.

  3. sheila says:

    I’ve gotten a free credit score from Credit Karma and haven’t had any issues although I didn’t know it wasn’t my FICO score.

  4. michael says:

    I don’t understand why they need your social security number? Is it really safe to give a company your social security number?

  5. Will says:

    This provides you with a free credit score.

  6. g4572 says:

    I think that in many ways the free credit score is a scam. Let me explain my reasoning. When people hear “free credit score” they assume that the credit score that they are receiving is their FICO score. This is not what Credit Karma is giving. They use a score that is not accurate. What’s the use of getting your score if it doesn’t match up with the score that lenders are going to see? I think this is the major flaw with this type of offer.

  7. laurie66 says:

    Like I said, I get a free credit score with my credit card bill each month.

  8. deacon says:

    Thank you for this information. I didn’t realize that the credit score that they give is and actually my FICO score. This is a bit disturbing as that is what I thought I was getting. I guess it makes sense that they wouldn’t advertise this bright and boldly, but it still disappointing.

  9. dave says:

    I don’t like the fact that you have to give your social security number to them. Especially since they had to settle a lawsuit with the government over potentially leaking sensitive financial information about users over their phone app. I just don’t trust them for this reason.

  10. stacy says:

    I don’t think that there is a way for them to access the score without your social security number. Id they only had your name, your score could be from anyone with the same name. This is the only way that they can access the data they need and make sure your score is yours.

  11. gina says:

    I don’t understand why a credit score is so important. Dave Ramsey says that you don’t need your credit score and all it is really telling you is your debt score. The best thing to do is to stop worrying about where to find a free credit score and to get yourself out of debt. At least that’s the way I see it. It shouldn’t matter to anybody if Credit Karma, Credit Sesame or any other website is giving free credit scores because that’s not what you should be worried about. You should be worried about getting out of debt because then your credit score doesn’t matter.

  12. fredrick says:

    I wish it was a lot easier to understand what the credit score actually means. Credit Karma is giving me one score, Credit Sesame is giving me another, is giving me yet another, and Quizzle gives me yet a fourth different one. I assume that if I paid MyFICO for their score, it would be different to. And then all of the lenders would get yet another score. Why does there have to be so many? It’s all so confusing and I don’t know which one to believe.

  13. greg says:

    There are lots of reason to need a credit score even if you aren’t going to get a loan. Insurance is one reason. Your car insurance will cost less with good credit than no credit because you are a higher risk with no credit. it might not seem fair, but it’s the reality. Credit scores do matter.

  14. gina says:

    That’s just stupid. My credit score shouldn’t affect my insurance rates. They have nothing to do with one another. I still don’t think you should go into debt so you can save money in other areas. It’s better to be debt free with no credit score than to save a little money on insurance. I still believe this.

  15. greg says:

    Whether it should or not is not relevant to this conversation. It does. It’s important to stay in reality and not base your decisions on what you would like things to be.

    You don’t have to go into debt in order to save money. You just have to make sure that you have a good credit score, and that doesn’t mean that you need to go into debt. Credit scores a matter.

  16. greg says:

    There are many different versions of your FICO score. I think it’s currently up to 49 of the moment. Even if you buy your FICO score from MyFICO, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be exactly the same as what money lenders see when they call your credit score.

    I wouldn’t believe any of them as an exact score. Look at them as a general score that can help you determine whether you’re doing things right or wrong to improve it.

  17. chris says:

    this story has a lot of inaccuracies in it. One in particular is where it states a consumer has a 50 point drop in their score from this years reading from last years. And that scores do not drop that rapidly. Scores can drop that much monthly, depending on the balance to owe ratio on credit cards. When I see things like this I usually feel the article as a whole is a sham.

  18. bill says:

    Didn’t Credit Karma have to pay a bunch of money to the Federal Trade Commission because their phone app was unsecure and identity thieves could have accessed all the vital information? This is why I would stay away from them. If they can’t even secure their phone app when I have to give them my social security # to get a credit score, I feel it would only be a matter of time that my data was stolen from them.

  19. gina says:

    Dave says that I don’t need one, so I know that I don’t need one. Nobody does. It’s all a scam that they are doing things like that. Credit scores and insurance rates have nothing to do with one another.

  20. derrick says:

    Yes. I don’t believe that any information from users was known to be compromised, but they were advertising that their mobile app was more secure than it was. I believe they have secured that issue now as well.

  21. greg says:

    Denial doesn’t change the facts. It’s important for most people to have a good credit score. If you want to save money, understanding your score and ways to improve it are essential.

  22. greg says:

    No information was stolen, but the possibility of it being stolen was there. Then again, this information can be stolen it a lot of different ways. I guess you just need to decide whether or not the risk is worth it to you to know what you’re credit score is.

  23. greg says:

    There are always risks when you give out information like that, but a lot of places have it, too, so if someone wanted to steal your social security number, they probably could.

    The only way that they can access your credit history to give you your credit score is to know your social security number.

  24. faith says:

    Sorry if this comment is stupid, but why exactly do businesses need a credit score on us? The whole thing seems ridiculous.

  25. When a business gives you a loan, there is a risk that you won’t pay back that loan. The credit score is a way for these business to access the risk they are taking by lending you money. The system isn’t perfect, but it gives them a general idea. That is why people who have lower credit scores have to pay more in interest. They have a higher risk if defaulting on the loan.

  26. Karen Zimmerman says:

    I don’t know who made up these rules for our credit scores. I was going to try Credit Karma but after reading these comments, I’m not going to even try. A few years ago I had OK credit. All three were different but it averaged to about 780. My mortgage had never been late for 10 years, car payment never late on several cars. I contacted a couple of companies to find out what the problem was. Unbelievably, I was late on Capital One card six years earlier. I called Capital One and it was one day late. (I mailed it as it was before everyone paid bills online) It brought down my score DRAMATICALY, especially on one of the 3 major credit bureaus. I pay bills online now and cut up all my credit cards. (but not my bank debit card) If I can’t afford it with the money I have in the bank, that means I can’t afford it and don’t purchase it.

  27. josh says:

    You say its reality but it really isn’t. Reality happens and when you miss a payment it could affect you’re entire life. Having faith in this system is what keeps it alive. If its not perfect then why is it such a big deal. I’m only saying this because reality happened to me. Things that were out of my control and now I feel segregated because of my credit. This is exactly why this system is in place. Greed

  28. dave says:

    freecreditreport is a scam. You should get it through which is the one the government made the credit bureaus set up and you get a free report once a year form each of the main three.

  29. faith says:

    It’s not needed at all! Listen to Dave Ramsey and don’t worry about your credit score at all. The whole credit score system is a scam!

  30. DJ Sullivan says:

    I have come to think that Credit Karma is just for supplying Discover Card with more customers. Karma states, in the on-site add, that you can transfer all credit card debt, and pay no interest for 18 months. I made the mistake. I received the card, but was told I could transfer xxx amount and any other transfers, or purchases, would be at 18% interest. Needless to say, I cut up the card.

  31. danielboan says:

    they say “free” but I just went through the whole application–& of course giving out personal info—at the end they want your credit card # for a $1.00 fee!!!!! so they get your credit/debit card #!!!!!!!!!!!!! SCAM

  32. Robert H says:

    I tried to obtain a credit report from Credit Karma. They had some real stupid questions that they claim they got from how I identified myself. One of the questions was when I attended the Naval Warfare School, which nowhere did I even say that had gone to this school. Another one was where was my last student loan, I do have a college degree, but I never took out one student loan as I was able to pay for my college using the GI bill and working, nowhere did I even say that I took out a loan. Now they are asking me for personal documents, like my SSN card, state driver s license, passport to prove to them that I am who I say I am. Guess they think that I am stupid enough to send these documents to them to an address in San Francisco, California. They have the account that I set up all locked up. They will not do anything to include providing a telephone number where you can talk to someone. This Credit Karma is a joke and a scam that they are looking for enough personal information in documents so that they can steal your ID from you. BEWARE OF THESE PEOPLE.

  33. Jack says:

    I don’t think Credit Karma is a scam, but they aren’t a company I would give my information to. You know hackers are targeting sites just like this because they do have all your financial information. Mark my words, you’re going to hear about a breach of their security in the next two years and everyone is going to act “shocked” that it happened.

  34. Kein says:

    Yes, Will, but WHY can’t the consumer simply go to Transunion and Equifax and get the information directly from them? What is the motivation of Credit carma to do this for ‘free’? Is it really ‘free’ or do you have to give a CC # which will be billed for a membership in 30 – 90 days which you will miss on the bill and take too much time to dispute it? How do they make money to stay in business?

  35. Kein says:

    Why should I go to credit carma to get my seemingly ‘free’ credit report when I can simply go to the credit reporting agency sites and get what I want there? I also don’t have to pay anything or give any more information than they already have such as a credit card #. What exactly IS credit carma and why are they in business? I can’t possibly see why anyone would give you something for ‘free’ online without some kind of benefit. After all, they never say how they make money in the commercial.

  36. Dean says:

    Credit Karma doesn’t ask for a credit card. They earn their money by offering you better financial tools than you may already have. For example, if you have a credit card with a 15% interest rate, they may offer you one that has only a 9% interest rate. You save money and they get a commission for steering you to the credit card company.

  37. Dean says:

    Transunion, Experian and Equifax all charge a fee for the credit report and credit score. Credit Karma doesn’t charge a fee or ask for a credit card.

  38. dealbreaker says:

    I’m not sure if it’s a scam, but I think they are dishonest. You have to pay for it be getting all types of junk mail and offers you don’t want. That’s dishonest as it isn’t really free.

  39. Robert says:

    @laurie66, Please don’t add insult to injury. Your remark showcases your ignorance. free credit report .com the scam of all scams. I surly hope you didn’t fall for it.

  40. Tammy says:

    Sorry Gina but what Greg is saying is true. Every company is going to start using your credit score. Insurance companies are already using it to determine your rate, where I live if I move and have to have my utilities turned on just for my electric alone I either have to have a good credit score or pay a $500 deposit, my husband is a long distance truck driver and a lot of the companies are going to start checking your credit score and use that to help determine if they will hire you. They said that his credit score showed if he was a “reliable person”. Try to change insurance companies and ask them if you can get a better rate by them checking your credit score and they will tell you that if your credit score is good that yes, you could qualify for a better rate.

  41. Tammy says:

    Fredrick, the only way to get a true accurate credit score (or FICO, the correct name for it)is to go thru the three credit companies. Yes each company will very by a few points but will be close. The reason each one is different is because each one has their own point system. Example: you have a credit card with a limit of $5000 and you have it maxed out. One of the three may take 20 points off of your credit score for that while another one may only take 15 points off for it. Any credit card you owe more than 30% of your max limit will put a ping in your credit score. Get the total below 30% of your limit and your score will go up. Being late on a payment is the same way. One company may take 25 points off for a late payment while the other company may take off 18 points for the late payment. These are just examples but that is why the credit scores you get from the big three companies will differ to some degree. We asked our credit union which one of the big three they used to check our credit score and they told us so that is the only score we concentrate on because when it comes to a big loan (mortgage or auto), our credit union is who we would go through.

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