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Is Credit Karma a Scam?

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Credit KarmaYou know the old maxim – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Does Credit Karma sound too good to be true? You can see your TransUnion credit score for free? You can get absolutely free credit monitoring? These are services that people pay good money for and Credit Karma, a company that isn’t affiliated with any of the credit bureaus, is giving it away for free. It does sound too good to be true.

That begs the question – is Credit Karma a Scam?

Is Credit Karma a Scam?

While you can never say so with 100% certainty, I don’t think they are a scam. I don’t think they are a scam because I understand the business model and you can make more money legitimately than illegitimately, plus they’ve been at it for a long time. While none of these are absolute indicators of them not being a scam, I’d find it difficult to believe that this is an elaborate ruse designed to steal personal information. :)

For more information about their service, here’s my Credit Karma review and video walkthrough.

How does Credit Karma Make Money?

I don’t know for sure but my guess is that they make money when someone signs up for an offer on their site. When you visit the site, you’re frequently shown banking, credit card, and other financial offers that are probably better than whatever you’re using. When I logged in, I was shown an offer for the Citi Platinum Select MasterCard and estimates that I could save $342 over a year. Since I carry no balance, I know that savings estimate is wrong but for someone who does carry a balance, $342 is good savings. If I sign up, Credit Karma may be paid for that.

What About Other Free Credit Scores?

For almost every other free credit score offer, you get your credit score in return for signing up for a credit monitoring membership service. That credit monitoring service comes with a monthly fee after the trial period and the company is betting that you’ll continue with the service, either by choice or because you forget to cancel. They aren’t scams because they tell you this up front but Credit Karma doesn’t sign you up for anything you will eventually pay for.

You will have to make your own determination as to whether Credit Karma is a scam. I’ve been using them for over a year with great results, they’re the cornerstone of my do it yourself identity theft protection system and it’s been working out so far.

{ 430 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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430 Responses to “Is Credit Karma a Scam?”

  1. Ally says:

    I signed up and they say my credit score is 100 points lower than it actually is. I know this because I have credit monitoring that I pay for. It is misleading.

    • Cynthia Wilson says:

      Yes Credit Karma is a scam. I went on line with them, and they ask me for my debit card number, said they were going to charged me a refundable dollar. They give my information to Score Sense.com, with out my permission and charged my bank account 29.95. I called Score Sense over two weeks ago and they said they would request for a refund. I give them my e-mail and still have not heard a word from them.What pisses me off is I never got to see my credit score and I never give them my permission to sign me up with Score Sense. They are a rip off and I want my money back now. I am a single mom going to college and just found out I’m not going to get to draw unemployment anymore, after they told me I would get to draw for two and a half years while I go to school. There is no jobs around here anymore. I need my 29.95 now before they cut my water off tomorrow. If I don’t get my money soon like now put back into my account. I will call channel 19 news trouble hotline and have it broadcast all on the news. It is a shame yall call yourselves free while ripping poor people off.

      • cmbjrb says:

        I signed up for credit karma today, they never asked for any credit/debit card numbers at all. every thing i find is accurate. not sure about the score because i have not signed up to have it checked anywhere else but it shows it about where i think is should be.

      • Mozelle P. Chason says:

        I am having the exact same problem. I was told by phone recently that the $29.95 would be refunded and today, received an e-mail saying that it would not be refunded. I am going to call them and then call my credit card company and dispute the claim. I did not give Karma permission to give my info to ANYONE and did not know they had until I received my credit card statement.

      • suzane says:

        all you have to do is call your credit card company and dispute it.thank you

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong. Been a member for 4 years and never charged a dime. Granted you can pay for better monitoring, but this is 1 bureau with mostly just forums and suggestions. If you have good credit, you probably don’t need it. If you got charged money for something, you didn’t read everything and it’s your fault, not channel 19, nobody but you. Take some responsibility and stop being such a loser.

  2. Mike Coburn says:

    Thry asked for my ENTIRE social security number! That aint kosher. It’s dangerous and an indicator they are phishing. So I refused to give it. I am left with a cookie that continues to reproducce the incomplete applicatin!! I guess I’ll have to live without them.

    • ThatGuy says:

      …unless, of course, they need your FULL social security number to pull your credit reports for you. Which they do.

      If you don’t understand that much about credit, you probably don’t need to be checking your credit score.

      • Jasper2 says:

        Actually, they don’t need your entire social security number to access your credit. The last 4 digits is sufficient as long as they have the rest of your identifying info.

        How many people with the same name and zip code do you think also have the identical last 4 digits of their SS#? Answer? NONE

        By the way, I do know this information to be accurate.

        • Brian says:

          I work for one of the largest financial data services companies in the world. You, Jasper2, are wrong. You DO need your full SSN to pull your credit report. It may be true that your name, DOB, ZIP, and last 4 digits of your SSN can personally identify you… but the credit bureaus REQUIRE all nine digits!

          I do not think Credit Karma is a scam.

          However, I am NOT comfortable with a 3rd party like Credit Karma keeping all my personal info in their database. Sure, I believe that they will keep it encrypted, and firewalled… but it could still be hacked.

          The credit bureaus could also be hacked… but they are MUCH more reputable companies, and I have no choice but to trust them. Credit Karma, on the other hand, is not as well known, has not been around as long, and I am not forced to give them my personal info as I am forced to give it to the big three credit bureaus when I apply for a loan.

          • SAMMY 1 says:

            True,any web site can be hacked.
            Even the government has been hacked.

          • Indie says:

            Credit Karma does NOT store your SSN in their database.

          • Jamie says:

            Brian, Jasper2 is correct. They only need your last four digits. Maybe where you work they do things differently. A few years back I applied for a credit card and they only required my last four digits. The report and score was accurate. The last four digits of your SSN is your personal ID number only. The first three refers to the state you were born in, the middle two is for admin purposes with the last four being your actual ID. Many people have the same first 5 digits.

  3. Jason Morgan says:

    I have tried to sign up with Credit Karma for two days, I provide all the information they ask for, get an email saying my account is created, I try to login and it starts over with the sign up page.
    They are either incompetent or they have been compromised in any case I would never use them, you identity would not be safe with them no matter what they claim!

  4. Felicia Harcourt says:

    I have been using Credit Karma for well over a year, and have never had a problem. The credit score does seem a little low, but scores from the major 3 reporting agencies differ quite a bit. I think this is just the average…not sure. Anyway, they’ve never charged me a dime, and never asked for any payment information when I signed up. I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s a good way to monitor your credit, and it’s totally 100% free.

    • John G says:

      You must have filled-out a different application.
      The application I am looking at charges a monthly fee.
      Hmmm ………

    • Tre says:

      If your not sure why the score is lower how can u say it works. You think it’s because they combine the big three. I would think you would get fico scores from the big three to make sure. Yeah it may cost money but credit Karma is not the score KB Homes uses to determine ur interest rate

    • mark says:

      I agree. Have been using them for awhile now. Never charged me a penny or ask for a credit card.

  5. Candy says:

    Sounds to me like they are a scam and if you have a good credit score they give you what others cannot get because their credit scores are not as good.. I am thinking someone needs to contact the BBB and investigate this.

  6. Jasper says:

    I can’t say for certain whether CK is a scam, but their so-called scores are a joke. I get my credit scores from ITAC Sentinel as often as I like from all 3 agencies and they are all considerably higher than those reported by CK. I applied and received credit from Wells Fargo and Kohl’s and immediately paid both off within two weeks. ITAC scores didn’t budge but CK showed a 7 and 14 point hit. Creditors don’t care about CK scores. They DO care about TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. I have $41000 in savings and never carry a balance on credit cards and have a 100 percent on time payment record on every account I have ever used. I have a 2 percent credit utilization ratio with $27000 available, yet CK gives me a hit for adding 2 accounts that are essentially retail store accounts with corresponding low limits which I opened only to get better pricing on sale items.

  7. Dave says:

    I have yet to sign up for Credit Karma, but have been looking into it. I am currently paying for a service that gives me my credit scores from Trans Union, Equifax and Experian. Trans Union’s score is ALWAYS lower than Equifax or Experian, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. Each of these companies treat your information differently and this can affect your credit score to varying degrees.

  8. sidelqueen says:

    I see they only give you a score but not real details of your account

    • mark says:

      they give all you account info, # of account. # of hard inquirys, debt to income ratio just go threw the site and search and look a all the tabs.

  9. Ray says:

    Funny this thread is here, because I have a friend who is trying to start a business and he wanted to make a site just like Credit Karma, UNTIL he realized it already existed. He forwarded it along to me anyway because he thought it would still be a great site to know and get free valuable info (like many of you obviously thought as well.)

    I have not signed up yet, because like many of you (or maybe not given some of the responses I see) I research this kind of stuff before signing up, but here is my take based on the comments I have seen on here. I think for those being or were charged a fee, I believe you are doing something wrong. My friend signed up, NO FEE. They advertise yes, that is how CK can maintain giving services for free! But that does not mean you have to click an ad or sign up for something. Some of you were dumb enough to even give your credit/debit card info for what was labeled a FREE SITE. Your brain scammed you there folks, lol.Makes me question your intelligence and your creditability in speaking on this site, if you couldn’t see a problem with that BEFORE clicking “submit”.

    The company gets an “A” rating on the BBB. With every company or provider of service, there are complaints. You don’t think Google, Facebook, hell, your hospitals and doctors, etc get bad feedback from time to time? Doesn’t make them a scam, or even low quality, it makes them HUMAN. I would prefer people on here to “close the loop” on their research rather than posting “my score dropped” and finger-pointing to one root cause that may not even be valid.

    TGIF folks!

  10. Eric E says:

    Good info on feedbacks, very helpfull. Thanks everyone! Eric E

  11. thestarisin says:

    May 22, 2012

    When we say that Credit Karma is a free service, we mean it. We’ll never ask for your credit card information under any circumstances.
    But now a new scam is trying to convince consumers that Credit Karma isn’t free. Websites advertising themselves as Credit Karma have started luring consumers to sign up, promising Credit Karma’s free credit score access. These other sites are falsifying page names and using misspellings of our name. Once a user clicks, he or she is redirected to a different website, not affiliated with Credit Karma, and asked for credit card information.
    We now know this is a regular occurrence, not just a fluke; a few users are reporting these scams. We wanted to make sure you are aware so that no more consumers are charged deceptively.

  12. crunchy says:

    I have been using credit karma for a long time now. The website gives you an average estimate of what all 3 credit agencies have for your FICO score. It’s not a totally accurate reading but close. It uses Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You would still have to pay on some other credit monitoring site for your actual credit score. I’ve never had any problems with the website and have never been asked for any money or a credit card. I just skip the advertisements.

  13. Bob says:

    @Brian:

    I just recently ordered Time Warner Internet. During the phone conversation, the salesman said he needed my SS # to run a credit check. I said no, and he said OK, you can order anyway. Then I got a notice from one of my credit monitoring services saying a credit check HAD been instituted recently from TW. So, apparently, one’s credit can be checked, even without ANY numbers being given. Not sure how they did this…..

  14. Cbailey2 says:

    Annualcreditreport.com It’s always been free and always will be. It’s where the government tells you to check you credit reports

    • Shirley says:

      That is a very good program and I use it but I want to keep any eye on things more than just twice a year. So I also use Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to do a quick monthly check to see if anything has changed.

    • Will says:

      Annualcreditreport.com does NOT give you credit scores of any kind. You can use it, once per year and access the same report for thirty days.

      Credit Karma shows your accounts with balances with daily updates and averages the three credit bureau scores. I have used it for months now, and found it to do exactly as it states. No charges, no intrusive ads.

  15. mrs j barrett says:

    waa going to join karma- but before hitting final “join” button decided to research just a bit more- came across u guys! ! ( thank goodness!!B-) ) Never knew my sears card had a free credit report watch- so joined there.. Went back to shut down / reverse my application w/ karma- who needs any un-necessary “people” agencies having their most “intimate” personal id info? Weeelll, low & behold- when I got back to karma ( understand- I NEVER shut down the sign up site- it was in it’s own screen to the side of my tablet..) THEY had changed my window & taken it upon themselves to complete my sign up & enter me into their “community”.. Sweet ofnthem to save me the time- ‘eh? It took me a bit to figure out how to tell them to take their application & shove it & that because *I*NEVER authorized the final approval that their little disclaimers DO NOT put them above prosecution for fraud… MY final word on karma? RUN AS FAST AS U CAN THE OTHER WAY!!!!

  16. RichardC says:

    I signed up back in 2010 and completely forgot about it until I saw a commercial today on TV. I tried to register an account, come to find out my old account was still active and hasn’t been updated since 2010,I immediately updated my old credit score and it jumped up about 50 points, I recently tried to refinance my house and was turned down because my score was too low, but it was off about 30 points between the loan company and Credit Karma, but I recently paid off some outstanding loans and it could have jumped up more, my home loan, car loan and my current Dell acccounts are listed and seem to be up to date.I don’t remember the sign up process, but haven’t been charged for anything since I signed up two years ago.I’ll continue to moniter my Credit Karma account and post any changes or discrepencies

  17. gsk says:

    I signed up with CK over a year ago. I had been practicing out of the states for 20 years and when I returned, had no credit history and virtually had to start over.
    I have had no issues with CK and by following their suggestions and constant monitoring have been able to get back to normal. Without them it would have been difficult to get up up to speed with the new credit environment in the country. They have been most helpful and have not asked a cent for all of their information.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I love Credit Karma!! Quick question tho so I have a total understanding, does CK just average all three of the scores to get the score that is on the CK site??

    • Jerry says:

      According to the info above on this site the Credit Karma score is the TransUnion score, not an average of the 3 bureaus and it is not your FICO score either.

  19. schoolbookman says:

    I just tired to sign up and it told me my email address was already in use, so I suspect it is a scam or it is affiliated with some big bank or credit card company. It just ticks me off if someone else used my email address to sign up for a scam.

  20. TBJ says:

    I have been a Credit Karma user now for almost 6 months. First off, they DO NOT ask for credit/debit card information and they DO NOT ask for entire social security numbers. If you got asked any of that information then yes, that probably was a scam, but not on Credit Karma’s part. I used to get emails all the time from my bank (Bank of America) or what looked like my bank asking me to click a link to verify information. Anyone who has a brain and who knows ANYTHING about computers or even the companies they deal with should know the company’s policies and how they deal with your privacy. Needless to say, I never clicked the links because BOA doesn’t send emails like that. And Credit Karma so far has delivered on everything that they said they would. I check my credit reports regulary and the informaton provided by Credit Karma lines up to what all 3 credit reports states.

    • sam101 says:

      I received the same e-mail from Bank of America, Chase,and Capital Bank all asking me to verify my infomation, the funny part of it is I use a Fedural Savings. I go to this web site http://www.IC3.gov. and fillout a complaint by copy and pase the whole e-mail in their form. Usuall one can forward the e-mail in question to Scam@TYPE IN BANKS NAME AFTER the @ sign

  21. Steve says:

    CK is a scam and it is subtle. If you sign up for the FREE stuff, they egg you on to buy the expensive stuff. If you DON’T buy that, they will start making your score go up and down to make you think you need to look at your report again (which you will have to pay for). If you don’t buy THAT report, they will then change the numbers for your loan balances (they added a $35K “other loan” to my acct after I turned down the paid service). When I still refused to buy the paid service, they locked me out of my account (at one point, they told me I had my name wrong. Then, my SS# was wrong . . . )
    SCAM!!!!!

  22. Claire says:

    Their score is a joke. My score at Credit Karma is 86!!! points lower than my actual FICO. Although they are using a different scoring model ( I guess similar to never successful Experian Vantage) the difference is extremely misleading.

  23. djaz says:

    I got the first score from CreditKarma and it was accurate. I paid off my credit cards three months ago and today’s score still reflects the amounts left on the card that I paid.

    Free may be nice, but you get what you pay for.

    My score should be, at least, 100pts higher.

  24. sam101 says:

    CreditKarma is a quick check to use.

    One must remember that TRANSUNION usually gives you a lower score with EQUIFAX giving a higher one and EXPERIAN in the middle of the lot.
    Each of these coumpanies use a different formula that measures your score.
    Request a hard copy from each.

  25. Babs 209 says:

    I keep seeing Credit Karma advertised on TV. Until reading the comments here, I was under the impression that they gave you the actual score from each of the 3 credit bureaus.

    I was a member of one of the BIG 3, with the fee based monitoring you have to subscribe to in order to get your scores. They told me my score for Experian was ___, for TransUnion was ___ and for Equifax was ____. Guess what… the score was EXACTLY the same for each of them. When I inquired as I knew this was not possible that all three were exactly the same, not one point different, they told me that was the score reported and that was all they knew. Months later, same thing. I stopped the service as they were providing incorrect information and I was PAYING for it.

    I now only use my FREE annual credit report from the annual credit report website and forego getting my scores. No one seems to give you accurate information as to your FICO scores regardless of the source or if you pay a fee for them or not. I just make sure the information in my credit report is accurate and let the scores alone.


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