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Investigate Your Clients’ Credit for Free

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Credit karma

Having your clients check their credit report is standard procedure in many family law practices. It’s important for the client to check and be sure there aren’t any surprises.

Clients can obtain a free report from all three major agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. That site is provided by the credit reporting agencies as required by law and makes a free report available once per year.

However, the free report does not contain a FICO or Vantage credit score. The report has all the usual info, but the scores are missing.

Is the score critical? No, it’s not essential if you simply want to be certain that you’re identifying the debt in your client’s name, the length of the credit history, record of payment, etc.

The score is, however, nice to have if your client is applying for credit or seeking to lease an apartment. The credit score is pretty much all the lenders and landlords care about when they order a report, so it’s important for your client to understand how he or she rates.

Of course, your client can buy a credit report from each agency for a small fee. The score will be included.

If your client would like the report and the score for free, then there are a limited number of options.

My favorite is Credit Karma. It provides the report and the score (from TransUnion) and will even provide updates when credit inquiries are made to the agency. Credit Karma is free to user. Credit Karma makes its money with advertising on the site tailored to the particular credit circumstances of the user.

Your client would be well advised to get the free report from all three agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com and then visit Credit Karma and get the scores and the free monitoring service. That’s a perfect combination. Of course, these reports won’t provide you with the info you need about debt that’s exclusively in the name of the other spouse. You’ll have to use other means to obtain that information.

I’ve been using Credit Karma since it got started. It works, it’s free, and it gives you what would otherwise be available only after paying a fee. I recommend it for you and for your clients.

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