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US Urges Banks To Give Free Credit Scores

The nation's top financial consumer protection regulator called on banks to give people free access to their credit scores, a move that would shake up the entire credit reporting industry.

Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, called for free sharing of credit scores after the CFPB released a report on the prevalence of errors in credit reports and scores.

Consumers are allowed one free look at their credit reports annually at AnnualCreditReport.com, but credit scores generally cost money. And while the scores are based on the data contained in credit reports, few consumers take advantage of the free offer. Only one-fifth of U.S. adults look at their credit reports every year, the bureau said.

Cordray said that disclosing credit scores to consumers would make them more likely to spend time examining their credit report, particularly if the scores are low. In a letter dated Feb. 10 and released Thursday, he called on credit card issuers to make scores available to consumers, potentially as part of monthly bills.

"Credit reports and scores can determine the terms of people's mortgages, whether they qualify for auto loans or if they are eligible for different credit cards," Cordray said Thursday at the bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board Meeting in Washington. "Making consumers' credit scores freely available on their monthly statement or online makes it easier for them to spot problems with their credit report."