Much like WalletHub, Credit Karma is a website that offers free credit scores. As such, questions of its trustworthiness are bound to arise. Most of us don’t have a lot of experience with credit scores, after all, and many folks’ first impressions are probably still tainted by flashbacks to the days when catchy jingles promising free credit scores led only to free trials for pricey subscription services that were difficult to cancel. And while a healthy amount of skepticism is wise when perusing any website that requests personal or financial information, it’s safe to say that Credit Karma is not one that should merit much worry.
Credit Karma is a legitimate website and not a scam, after all, providing helpful services to people for free, with no credit card required. The company did run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission, which in 2014 settled charges alleging negligent mobile data security practices, but that shouldn’t necessarily scare you off. Credit Karma must now submit to biennial independent security audits , which figure to help protect your personal information, along with an “https” connection and 128-bit encryption.
There’s little reason to question the credit data that Credit Karma provides, either, considering that it’s direct from the credit bureau. It could contain errors, sure. One in five credit reports has a mistake in it, according to the FTC. But that has nothing to do with Credit Karma; so-called “data furnishers” such as financial institutions, landlords and employers are typically to blame. Credit Karma’s credit scores are accurate as well, despite being a bit outdated.
With that being said, there are two areas in which doubt enters the trustworthiness equation:
Questionable Recommendations: Credit Karma relies heavily on advertising to pay the bills, and this unfortunately pervades the products and services that you get pitched while reviewing your credit standing. You will receive recommendations for offers from Credit Karma’s advertising partners only, which means Credit Karma’s pockets take precedence over yours. And you’ll never know if you’re truly seeing the best offers on the market using only Credit Karma’s site. Sure, some measure of advertising can be expected from a purveyor of free credit scores, as nothing is truly free and someone has to pay the credit bureaus for their product. But that doesn’t mean you should trust what you see.
Decision Making On A Delay: The freshness of Credit Karma’s credit data might serve as another cause for pause, seeing as it only happens once a week and if you log in. That means you’ll be managing your money on a delay and, once again, won’t know what important information you’re missing in the interim.
These points just go to show that while Credit Karma is generally trustworthy, trusting it implicitly or exclusively isn’t advisable.
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