Credit Scores: Your Right to Know

On July 21 a new rule will go into effect that requires lenders to tell you your credit score if they deny you credit. Prior to this rule, only mortgage applicants have been entitled to know the credit scores which led to a credit decision.

Now the rule will extend to credit cards, auto loans, student loans, etc. – but only if you are turned down for credit or approved at less than the best rates. In this case,  the credit issuer must provide you with a free copy of the credit score used as a basis for the decision.

You’re also entitled to a free score if your credit issuer decides to raise your interest rate or reduce your credit line based on your credit scores.

In addition, if you’re turned down for tenancy or required to pay several months rent in advance, your landlord must provide you with the score they used – but only if they used scores that a lender could use to underwrite a loan or some form of credit.

Some scores don’t fall under the rule.

What other kinds of scores are there? Dozens, actually. Among them are “utility” scores used to determine whether you’ll pay a security deposit to your utility company. Another is the “insurance score” used to determine the rates you pay for coverage – or if you’ll even get coverage.

These companies are not required to reveal the scores they used in their decision making unless they use the FICO or VantageScore.

What are you entitled to know?

If you’re denied credit or issued credit at inferior terms, you’ll receive a free score through a notice from the lender.

This notice must include basic information such as the date the score was created, who provided the score, the major factors that are damaging your score, where you rank nationally, and the range of possible credit scores.

Providing the range is important in understanding your financial position, because a 750 score with FICO is good, while a 750 with VantageScore is not. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, while Vantage Scores range from 501 to 990.

Finally, the credit issuer must provide you with information on how to get a complete copy of your credit report.

This new rule could be important to you.

In the past, some unsavory car dealerships have used the excuse of poor credit scores to over-charge consumers on interest rates. Because they didn’t have to reveal the credit scores used, they were able to mislead thousands of consumers who paid the price because they needed the car.

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Disclaimer: This information has been compiled and provided by as an informational service to the public. While our goal is to provide information that will help consumers to manage their credit and debt, this information should not be considered legal advice. Such advice must be specific to the various circumstances of each person's situation, and the general information provided on these pages should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.