JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, the two largest U.S. banks and two of the largest credit card issuers, will start providing free credit scores to some of their card customers in a move meant to help boost consumer security.
Massive cyber assaults on payment cards at major retailers over the past several months and rising concerns over identity theft are driving the new openness among the biggest lenders, in partnership with Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO).
Consumers who can monitor their credit scores on a monthly basis can better detect any fraudulent activity or any other problem with the credit profiles.
Chase and Bank of America will start providing FICO scores to some of their customers for free this year.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. But that doesn’t include credit scores, such as the widely used FICO. Consumer advocates have pushed for adding that requirement to FCRA.
Discover Financial Services has been providing FICO scores to most of its credit card customers since last year, after it became the first major credit card issuer to do so for its “Discover It” card customers.
President Obama referred to the growing availability of free credit scores in a speech Monday at the Federal Trade Commission, along with steps the federal government is taking to help boost consumers’ financial security.
“Through this effort over half of all adult Americans with credit scores will now have access to this tool to help spot identity theft, through their banks, card issuers, or lenders,” the White House said in a statement.
Ally Financial, one of the largest issuers of auto loans, will also begin offering FICO scores to all of its car-loan customers. Ally will begin providing car-loan customers their score in February in a pilot phase, with a slated roll-out to all customers in the summer. Ally customers will need an account online, where the score will be made available. This is an option currently available to about two million Ally customers.
A Bank of America spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that BofA will begin providing its credit-card users with their FICO score later this year. Chase also plans to offer FICO credit scores at no charge to its credit card “Slate” users in coming months.
“Our Slate customers have told us that information related to managing their finances, such as access to their credit scores, is very important and we want to empower them with that information,” said a Chase spokeswoman.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been applying pressure on large credit-card lenders to make credit scores widely available to consumers. The bureau regularly gets complaints from consumers who can’t access their credit score.