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Update: After a 4 year hiatus consumers can finally purchase their own Experian FICO score without having to apply for credit. It’s not cheap at $19.95 but it’s nice that it’s back at least. It’s worth noting that AMEX typically gives you your Experian FICO score for free when you apply for a consumer Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express whether you are rejected or approved.
HT: 123ablack, via DDF

Originally posted on 04/04/13:

There are lots of services that claim to want to sell you or give you your credit score. Unfortunately they’re almost all FAKO scores because they are fake. Lenders never use these scores.

Checking your own score does not hurt your score at all but the truth is that I don’t really sweat my score. You can get your complete report without the score from all 3 credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, for free once per year from and the main thing is to make sure that it’s clean.

Alternatively you can get all 3 reports in a nice format from Citi Identity Monitor for $1 with a 30 day trial. Just be sure to click the box to access all 3 reports once you login. The scores are FAKOs but it’s still useful to check your hard pulls and check for inaccuracies every now and then.  You can “burn” identity monitor and signup for their $1 trial as many times as you want.

Otherwise if you want to see your real FICO score there are really just a few options:
1. MyFico offers a free 10 day trial to Score Watch. This includes your Equifax FICO score.  You can cancel online. Just select “I would like to cancel my product subscription” and then click “Score Watch-Free Trial.”

2. MyFico also allows you to purchase your TransUnion FICO score for $4.95/month (with a 3 month minimum purchase required, so $14.85) here.
You can also get your Transunion FICO score for free with a Walmart credit card.

3. If you have already used your free MyFico trial recently you can also purchase your Equifax FICO score directly from Equifax in their Score Watch product for $14.95/month which you can cancel right away.

And that’s about it, pretty much everything else is FAKO.

There is generally no way for a consumer to view their Experian FICO score, the one sold directly from Experian is FAKO.  The only exception that I’m aware of is that members of the PSECU credit union (which is only available to limited residents of Pennsylvania) can access their Experian FICO scores for free.  Otherwise I suppose you can apply for a loan to see your FICO score, but that would cost you a hard pull which will hurt your score.

The scores sold directly from TransUnion are also FAKO, as are most of the other scores sold by Equifax except the ones linked to above.  And pretty much every other offer out there to get your scores are for FAKOs as well.

Hopefully that clears up some confusion…

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85 Comments On "FICO Vs. FAKO"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


What about Amex, I use them to monitor my activity, is their numbers also fako? Thought they have the real numbers.
Also what’s the difference between the two, I mean where do they get the fako numbers from? Is it just a wild guess?


So where do FAKO scores come from? Is there any truth to them? What is the practical difference?


They make the numbers up based on their own factors. There’s no correlation between scores as all.
Companies give FAKOs because they can make them up for free. To provide your FICO score would be costly.

All scores are based on your report, but they are all arbitrary.
Most lenders pull your FICO score, so the rest are fairly worthless. A FICO score can be hundreds of points different from a FAKO score.


So the $1 trial on experian, that you can get your report and credit score is a fako?
Interesting, why would a credit bureau themselves sell a “fako”?


Correct. It doesn;t even have the same score range as a FICO score.

Because it’s more profitable as they don’t have to share revenue with FICO.


I don’t think it will let you signup for the free trial if you have done it in the past 24 months.


That’s amazing and unbelievable!

How come you don’t write from where you take this information?


how is it that I could have a different fako score for experian on citi identity monitor and


I didn’t take this information from anywhere.
It’s just knowledge I’ve gained while playing the game over the years.

Every FAKO will be different because they’re FAKE and there are hundreds of them out there.
They’re all just made up and are based on different factors and different score ranges.

The only thing they have in common is that your creditor isn’t using ’em.


For option #3 listed above is the monthly fee prorated by any chance or should we expect to eat the full $14.95 fee even if we cancel the day after we sign up?


Dan what about Credit Karma


Do I have to be suspicious about credit karma as I gave them my SS#


From an article just tweeted by Credit Karma: “Here are two unusual ways to access your credit score: use a peer-to-peer lending site. and are both sites that let ordinary people borrow and lend money to one another, without a bank as a middleman. They both show “grades” for borrowers, based on the prospective borrower’s credit score. AA means your score is above 760, A means its 759 to 720, and so on. This is another good – if unusual – way to access your credit score for free.”

What do u think?


What about Credit Karma and Credit Sesame? FAKO?

Yoel F

When you search to rent an apartment and they check your credit the score is not effected negatively. so you might ask any real estate broker could do it for $9-$25 for a 3 burea report


Is it harmful to your score to monitor it? Is checking it this way considered a pull?


There is, it’s like for credit score,
It’s free and pretty detailed,


What about Credit Sesame


I got denied for a citi card and they mentioned I can get my report for the next 60 days. What would the numbers be on that report? Also I got accepted for an amex starwoods card, and they just sent me an acceptance letter with my credit score in it…is that my correct score?


Isn’t there something that when you apply for a credit card, you have the right to ask them to tell you what you credit score was?


thanx dan!! So im assuming that when credit sesamee says your scores been goin up or down its fako?

Kevin Kerzner

You are spot on with your comments, as a credit scoring specialist for the past ten years, people are shocked when they think they have a great vantage score which is the score experian uses, when they go pull their FICO score they are suprised that their scores are weak or sub prime.

love this blog

Just got a letter from chase with my score 699 (range 350-999).
while AMEX send me a letter showing my score is 750 (range 350-850).
Could be one of them is pulling my FACO?!


So if I recently obtained a loan and received copies of my credit reports through that process, those are true FICO scores?


I’m no fan of overregulation but this definitely seems like a valid place for a consumer protection law.


I follow that the scores aren’t super important. As long as all the FAKOs are decent you are looking good.

But do you sweat your total inquiries? Being a CA resident, all my inquiries are going to Exp. I’m not entirely sure when this will become a problem…Thoughts?





@Yoel F:
That would be a hard pull. If you apply for more than one it may be lumped into 1 hard pull but I don’t see why that would be a soft pull.




It may be a FICO you would have to read the fine print.

Yes but they dont need to give FICO.

@love this blog:
1. They don’t need to provide FICO.
2. Banks can also tweak your score to their own liking based on unpunlished internal factors.

My point is that people bounce back and forth bet week FAKOs and wonder why the scores fluctuate so much. Its because there’s just no correlation between FAKOs.

Probably but read the fine print.

@Rafa: Indeed.

Inquiries affect you most for just 6 months and in 24 they’re gone entirely.



What about for Walmart Credit card. They advertise that they give you a free FICO score monthy?


I had a perfect credit score for years….until I cosigned for a friend on his car loan. Anyway he had a bunch of 30 day late payments and a 90 day late payment which all killed my perfect credit. I applied for a car loan the other day and I have a 714, is that bad? Any advice to clean up my credit.

Steveo (one word)

@DAN wow, thanks. My wife and i both still have excellent real fico scores and we collectively have over 40 open active account. Thanks so much.


Looks like they give a TransUnion Fico.

714 is not bad but I hope you’ve learned your lesson…

@Steveo (one word):


Dan, you can’t cancel the score watch free trial online. When you try, you get a message telling you that you have to call:


Guys, read the post!!! Credit sesame, credit karma, citi moniter, are all FAKO! There are very limited options for FICO, and Dan posrted them above.


What do you think about


Interesting. Last time I had a trial I was able to cancel online though.




I did with equifax a free ten day trial with all 3 agencies. Is the experian fake?


They may all be FAKO. Depends which product you bought.


BUT Dan what about…? ha! just kidding. thanks for the post! you obviously hit a nerve with people…

love this blog




You posted A company who can help remove any delinquent marks p a credit report. Can you suggest one

About score

Doesn’t Chase also have their own internal scoring system that they use?

Also, does you score matter if you are applying for a home mortgage? (i.e. will you get a better rate if you are at 780 than at 720?)


hey dan i live in nj can u tell me where chase and amex and barclay get my score from? tx!


Shavuah Tov Dan,

Quick question on closing credit cards to avoid the annual fee. I understand the effect of opening the card “hard pulls” on my credit, and I also know that closing an account can hurt my credit because of increased spending to credit ratio, etc. So, if I want to avoid the $450 annual fee for Year 2 and beyond, what are my best options with minimum to no effect on my credit.



How about

answer to ross

Transfer your line of crdit to a current card that you are maintaining, so it will not affect your credit spending ratio.


whats considered a good credit score?


OMG! I have been using creditkarma for a while now, thinkin it was good (and free!).

first responder;)

thanks! ive been using karma for awhile till now…. i got a score now from transusion, and one of my “account review inquiries” was done via “karma/transusion interac….” are u sure KARMA is a FAKO????


@About score:
Entirely possible. Likely a FICO tailored to their needs.

A FICO over 740 will likely get the best possible mortgage rate.


A charge card has no credit line, don’t sweat having to close it.


700+ is good.
740+ is excellent.


@first responder;):
If you want a FICO Transunion get it directly from myfico.


Please update OP with the easy source of TU08 FICO which is Walmart or WM/Discover card.

Please DO NOT promote myFICO TU98 score. It is worthless and not used by lenders anymore.

EQ FICO is free for members of Digital Credit Union. It is published on the last Friday of every month.


i applied for a discover card and along with the approval of the card they sent my fico score is that accurate?

lshem mitzva

at you could get your real fico score from the 3 credit beauraus for free



@lshem mitzva:


Is all your pulls are on experian (CA resident) is there any point in looking at a transunion fico report?


I opened a bank acct. with Wachovia a few years ago and the agent looked at my score on the spot and told me I have an amazing credit score. I was Really young at the time. Any chance that it was a fico score?
Thanks a lot


I got CitiCredit monitoring … just to look at the hard pulls … not the Fako’s .. just wondering how long after applying for a card does it take to show up as an alert on Citi


For those of you that actually want to continue with–call to cancel your free trial and they will offer you a fee of $9.95 for as long as you keep the subscription. Yes having to call to cancel is a pain–I expected to cancel both mine and the Mrs–now she will have to call them tomorrow. If you can sign up online you should be able to cancel online as well.


is creditkarma fako


@tolch: yes


If you know a banker or mortgage lender you can pay them to get your FICO scores-it will be a soft pull. I paid about $18 for all 3 scores two years ago. The mortgage lender charged me what he was charged.


Why would it be soft?


Hi dan, how about m&t bank offering fico score by equifax is it FAKO? (New to your site..)


I just got spg business & I didn’t get it. Do I have to request it from amex ?


Myfico will give you both experian and transunion fico scores for $20 a month. That includes identity monitoring, credit reports etc. Why most people would need that I don’t know, but if your trying to clean up your credit and would like to see your progress, I think It might be useful.

Also, having a good fico score I. E. 759 does not guarantee good mortgage or any loan rate. That is mostly based on your income and other risk factors such as length of steady employment, LENGTH OF CREDIT HISTORY!, type of credit history, length if other types of payments, (example proof of rent going out for few years), and probably many other factors.

This is all just a repeat of what I was told a month back when I applied for a mortgage a month ago.

David R

@Mickey: Currently, DCU only offers this to those who have checking with Plus Benefits, which has a couple of additional requirements over their free checking. That said, I signed up for this benefit a while ago when they were still offering it to even to those who did not have Plus and they are still sending my score monthly even though I don’t qualify for Plus.
By the way, DCU was one of the first to offer remote deposit for personal accounts that could be done with a home scanner – no need for a smartphone or to use special equipment.


@Mendel: Most of those factor go into the credit score.


Hey Dan, whats your opinion on credit karma?


Thanks Dan. Can you explain when a hard pull is used and when a soft pull is used?


Just checked my FICO score. the $19.95 is well worth more than I hard pull. It’s so different from the FAKO scores!

Surprisingly, I was approved for 3 credit cards (AAdvantage, Chase United & Sapphire Preferred) this year and my score is only 679!


BTW American Express give you a credit score with more than just Starwoods, I have gotten it for a Delta application as well.


@Joey: wow!!!
How did you do that???


@Matt: Just applied online and was instantly approved!


Then just to confuse everyone else a bit more – within FICO models, there are several different variations that banks/lenders use.

Some may use a TU-98, while others use a TU-06. Both are FICO, but give different scores, as they take in consideration different reporting #s.

But the lesson here to be learned, is to stop PAYING FOR FAKO credit scores, if you are USING those scores to gauge your success in rebuilding credit, or for future credit applications.


Dan, how is They use which is a Trans Union company. Are they Fico or Fako. Thanks


Is Lifelock important to have? Do any of you have membership in it, and if yes, what are your thoughts of the service?


I just found out through Citi Credit Monitoring 3 in 1 report that as an authorized user on wifes card account her high credit usage on that card is being reflected in my credit score. This confirms other examples where authorized users credit scores will drop for the primary’s high utilization even though the AU is not responsible for the debt. I therefore had myself removed as an AU as a result and will continue to do so whenever applicable. Just a word of caution to all.


when tying to cancel, after you click it says please call this number….!!!!

credit karma fako


for all thos who are convinced since its free that it tells you the real score credit karma is fako

it says im 721
just apllied for a cc in chase they said my score was 641
u know I got denied


As others have hinted at, you actually cannot cancel myFICO’s Score Watch product online. You have to call, they will leave you listening to a short ad that repeats every 15 seconds for at least 20 minutes before you will speak to anyone, representatives are only available during certain business hours, and if you fail to cancel there is a 3-MONTH minimum for the $14.95 monthly payment, even if you do finally get through to request cancellation. Search for at the Better Business Bureau. They are completely aware that they are duping consumers into paying for 3 months of FICO’s services they don’t want.


Not sure if other people’s experience is different recently, but I just cancelled and it took me about three minutes- I waited maybe 30 seconds to speak to a CSR, and then she tried to convince me by offering a few different options and then just straight up moved on with her life 🙂
Good luck!


What I get angry about is that I have both a monitoring from Equifax and FICO and I routinely get my score(The real ones). Both FICO and Equifax have close to the same Equifax score so I know the Equifax score you get from them is pretty accurate. What I’m angry about is how all these FAKO scores are even allowed to continue to operate because they are sometimes off by over 100 points depending on the company and it seems like it’s just a way to screw the consumer. I recently moved from California to Arizona and they must all use the same FAKO company to obtain your credit to determine whether they will charge you a deposit or not. I mean we just got done buying a $255,000 second home in a very nice community and all of a sudden when we go to turn the utilities on, our credit is all of a sudden not good enough to get power service without a $300 deposit? When I ask to explain they claim we just pull Equifax credit report and your score is below a 620 so you get denied. Since I have the monitoring I personally know that my score is close to 700, both with Equifax and FICO and it’s across all bureaus since we received the score when we applied and were granted a 2nd mortgage loan. It seems like it’s so these companies can claim your score is actually lower then it is and get a higher interest rate on their service. Budget Car Rentals seems to subscribe to one of these bogus credit check companies because again I went to rent a car from them for the weekend and was denied because they checked my credit supposedly and according to them Equifax is saying my score is less then 620(Even though they never informed me until after they had done it and I never gave them permission). When they claimed it was again Equifax that is saying my score was low(mind you all I know is supposedly it’s lower then 620 but what it is they refused to tell me at Budget), I immediately proceeded to get Equifax on the phone and scream at them for giving out false information. I wasn’t to shocked however when I was informed that Budget was using the FAKO score and never actually contacted Equifax at all. So my issue is if they can deny someone credit or jack up the rates all because of one number then why isn’t the government regulating all these bogus companies and shutting them down. Growing up I always heard of TransUnion or FICO. If FICO is the only company besides Equifax that actually gives a real score and the big lenders use them then why are these other companies that are doing actual harm to the consumer allowed to continue. How can you pull your credit score from 5 different companies and all come back with entirely different scores, sometimes off by over 100 points from what they show the consumer when they are paying for the score, and what they show the lender when they are pulling it? They are supposedly using the same companies report. Moral of the story I guess is that I can obtain a mortgage loan because they pull a valid credit report and score yet try to rent a moving truck to move your belongings across state line and turn on the utilities at the new home where the new mortgage is and forget about it unless you want to pay extremely high ridiculous deposits to the utility companies. I guess you don’t get to rent a budget truck though because I guess I am going to run off with it? What a complete fraud perpetrated on the consumers. FYI my credit report actually has $0 in debt because if I charge something and I will have to pay interest then it gets paid off as soon as the bill comes. Only if I have a special financing period like 6 or 12 months same as cash will I pay in installments and then I always pay more then the bill and pay if off early. I’m not going to pay huge amounts of interest just so the credit bureaus can say I’ve been good and only charge the correct percentage of my limit that they see fit. The whole process is a scam and is implemented to jack up interest rates and charge consumers outrageous amount of money. At least with a loan shark you know the terms up front and they don’t change in the middle of your contract with them. You don’t pay on time and they break your legs. With credit card companies they are allowed to change the terms after you have the card and then if you opt out of the changes your credit score and report is harmed because they close your account which drops your score and then creates a domino effect with other companies even if you pay your bills on time. They don’t care if the reason your credit just decreased was you didn’t want to be screwed over by the credit card company. They only see that your score dropped and then they drop your credit limit or cancel your card, and then the next one, and so on until your credit is destroyed all because of the credit card shakedown!


Is ‘credit inform’ from capital one trustworthy?


Is this free trail by my fico still on? I’m trying for a while to get this free trail but I got nowhere. Did anyone has success recently?

David R

New! PenFed now displays FICO® score.