How Credit Karma Caught a Credit Report Error Before I Did

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I’ve been a fan of Credit Karma for about as long as they’ve been around. It’s a cornerstone of my DIY identity theft protection strategy because it lets me view my TransUnion credit score for free about as often as I want to. I usually check once a month and it lets me see if my score has made any significant changes. If it changes significantly and I don’t know why, it might be a reason for concern.

I have a prime and personal example of why this is a good strategy for everyone.

Unexpected Changes

My Credit Karma Score
As you can see from the chart, my score from August 2009 to March 2010 didn’t change much. In August it was 731, it ticked up a few points and by March 2010 it was 735 – basically unchanged. I missed checking in April but in May it “jumped” to 744 only to fall back down to 735 for June and July. All of the explanations in the “Report Card” portion of Credit Karma attributed my credit score changes to my application to a Capital One card last summer and aging of my account.

I wanted to find out for sure and, coincidentally, August is about when I pull my TransUnion credit report. In pulling my report I found two errors that I thought I fixed four years ago (they reappeared). It was an incorrect address where I’ve never lived and the telephone bill, associated with that address, that was now in collections! I went through the TransUnion error dispute process and within a couple business days, and no intervention on my part, the address and the collections account were removed from my report.

Now my new and improved reported TransUnion credit score is a 778. To be honest, I was most surprised that my score was 735 with a $250 past due account in collections but fortunately the error didn’t cost me a penny in additional interest.

As an FYI, the score you receive from Credit Karma is a TransUnion credit score based on your TransUnion credit report. This isn’t a standard FICO credit score but for our purposes it doesn’t matter. We don’t care about the number itself, we only care if it makes any unexpected changes up or down. For that reason, your Credit Karma score, which is free and requires no trial subscription and cancellation games, is ideal for this.

If you aren’t using Credit Karma for this, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

{ 9 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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9 Responses to “How Credit Karma Caught a Credit Report Error Before I Did”

  1. zapeta says:

    I use Credit Karma for the same thing. The interesting part is that it didn’t show the score drop when the incorrect information got on to your report. It must have been there the whole time so without checking your actual report you would have never known the error was there.

  2. cdiver says:

    I have been using C Karma for a long time now and have been pleased.

  3. jsbrendog says:

    i have been using it since i read about it here and i love it. i do need to pull my creid treport because last time i did i noticed 2 addresses i never lived at so who knows what popped up now

  4. shiftomnimega says:

    I signed up, I like it their metrics. However, I’m not sure where you can see your Transunion report.

  5. I’m using Credit Karma over the last 3 years, and I also highly recommend this service. There high score can be a little misleading, but it will give you an idea of your overall credit score.

  6. BrianC says:

    I’m a big fan of CK as well–it’s always interesting to see what impact temporary debt has on my score.

  7. MikeZ says:

    My longtime Credit Union DCU started giving out free FICO Equifax credit scores last year. I’ve been moving my money away from DCU and into places where they can get more rewards but I like keeping it open just to see this score.

    Getting your free score from DCU is probably less than obvious for those just joining DCU. After you start using DCU and its online banking they will send a message to your online account asking you if you want to opt in (after 4 weeks or so). Personally I opened a DCU account way back when they were the Digital Employees Credit Union and I worked for Digital so I never saw this.

  8. Jackie says:

    Credit Karma is awesome! They are one of a kind in my book!!

  9. Aaron says:

    This is handy. I just signed up and looked at my report. My lack of debt and credit card use apparently makes me a greater risk for lenders despite a solid history of making mortgage, car, and school loan payments. I guess if you don’t keep queuing up to pay them the rents, you’re last week’s leftover fish. I’m going to cancel the Amex account that I opened 2 months ago for hotels/rental cars and find out just how low I can go.

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