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How Credit Karma Caught a Credit Report Error Before I Did

I’ve been a fan of Credit Karma [3] for about as long as they’ve been around. It’s a cornerstone of my DIY identity theft protection strategy [4] 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

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 [5] 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 [3] for this, you’re doing yourself a disservice.