Intro to Credit Karma Complaints: What Is Credit Karma?
Before going into details on Credit Karma complaints and key reasons why some consumers complain about the site, let us first take a step back and go over what Credit Karma provides.
Regularly monitoring your credit score is an important part of getting your finances in order and creating a secure financial future. Fortunately, there are many services available to give you free access to your credit score along with information on how to improve your score.
Credit Karma is one of those companies and, despite Credit Karma complaints and negative reviews, the company continues to lead the pack in credit score services.
Image Source: Credit Karma
According to the Credit Karma website, the company offers several helpful services for those interested in monitoring and improving their financial life. After creating a free account with some personal information, you'll have access to the following features:
- Your credit score, which is updated weekly
- Your credit report – to help you find any red flags or areas that need improvement
- Credit monitoring to ensure that you’ll be notified if any suspicious activity occurs
- All of your accounts and information in one convenient location
For many, the obvious benefit of using Credit Karma is that it’s free to create an account and use the services offered by the company. Credit Karma complaints from users claim that the service isn’t always free and that there may be some issues with the accuracy of the scores given. We’ll address those complaints below.
Is Credit Karma Really Free?
Yes and no.
While there are many complaints against Credit Karma, most people can appreciate that the company doesn’t charge for its credit score service. In fact, you don’t even need to enter a credit card number at all to get access to the services offered from the company.
Credit Karma is a business, and, like all other businesses, it has a goal of making a profit. Throughout online Credit Karma complaints, many people question how the company makes money by offering free services. Users are never charged a fee for services, but money is made through affiliate marketing on the site.
When creating an account, you’ll be asked for specific information about your finances. According to Investopedia, the company then uses that information to present you with ads and offers that might be of interest to you. CreditKarma complaints frequently include a negative feeling about the company providing personal information to the third parties that create those ads and offers.
For example, if your credit report includes information about a home loan, you’ll likely see frequent ads for companies that offer refinancing services because you are part of that company’s target audience.
In creditkarma.com complaints, some people voice concerns about this method of sharing information and call it an inappropriate use of personal information. However, the company stands by its decision, and the process is explained on the Credit Karma website.
Due to close partnerships with several credit card companies, complaints against Credit Karma are often based on the ads from those companies in particular. While you aren’t obligated to take part in any of the offers, they can be misleading. They may not be the most financially beneficial options, but many people assume that an offer coming from Credit Karma will help them rather than harm them. For some, this can end up costing them money and doing further harm to their credit score.
The advertisements, while necessary for the company to make money, can be annoying for users who are simply trying to get access to their information and move along. These CreditKarma complaints are generally about the user experience rather than a more serious issue. However, in the next section, you’ll see why some users are concerned about privacy, online safety, and potential identity theft.
Giving Personal Information: A Key Source of Credit Karma Complaints
In order to gain access to your credit score, you’ll need to give a certain amount of person information to the company. This process is the source of many creditkarma.com complaints.
While you won’t need to enter your credit card information when creating an account on the site, you will need to enter information like your email address, home address, phone number, date of birth, and income.
The issue and the question in many creditkarma.com complaints is whether that personal information is secure or if it’s being given out or even sold to third parties. As we discussed above, Credit Karma uses the information you provide when signing up for an account as part of an algorithm that creates ads tailored to your specific financial situation. Credit Karma complaints say that the information should not be shared with other companies.
Others state in CreditKarma complaints that, in addition to ads on the Credit Karma site, they receive ads and offers through email and at their home address. While this complaint is another annoyance more than a security issue, many users find it intrusive.
Beware of Scams and Fraud
When searching for credit karma.com complaints, you’ll find some information that isn’t actually related to the company at all. After signing up for an account with Credit Karma or any other legitimate credit score services, fraudulent companies will use your browser history and email address to attempt to scam you through emails.
U.S. News Money shares an article about these phishing schemes. The author explains that after signing up for a free Credit Karma account, she got several emails telling her that her credit score had changed and offering links for more information. The websites linked asked for personal information that would have allowed strangers to gain access to her personal information.
While these aren’t exactly complaints against Credit Karma, the schemes are something to be aware of when using the company’s services.
Image Source: Credit Karma
How can you avoid being the victim of a scam? The same US News Money article provides some tips for protecting yourself, including the following.
- Check links before opening them. If they aren’t from the official website where you’ve created your account, don’t click on them.
- Avoid links from emails altogether. Rather than clicking on a link in your email, go directly to the company’s website in your browser. From there, you’ll be able to access your account and find everything you’ll need.
- Don’t fill in your credit card information. Some Credit Karma reviews complaints say that credit card information was stolen. However, Credit Karma is a free service, and the company will not ask for your credit card number. If you’re being asked for it, the request is not coming directly from the company.
- If you’re concerned that you’re receiving scam emails or that your personal information has been compromised, call the Credit Karma customer support team. The phone number is listed on the Credit Karma website, and the team will help you resolve the issue.
Validity and Accuracy of Credit Score Information
While the Credit Karma complaints above include issues that irk users and cause inconveniences, another big complaint could affect your financial life much more. According to the Credit Karma website, the information that users get about their credit scores comes from TransUnion and Equifax. Credit Karma says that it provides users with their VantageScore 3.0 credit scores. It claims that these scores are more accurate and more helpful than FICO scores.
For the majority of Credit Karma complaints that 2016 has brought about, review writers have complained that the information given is incorrect. Negative reviews given on the Better Business Bureau website focus on this problem, and many users share personal experiences with incorrect credit scores being given by Credit Karma.
Nerd Wallet has a guide which explains the difference between Vanguard and FICO scores. There are several similarities between the two. With each, the closer you get to a score of 850, the better. Both scores are based on information that comes from your credit report, and scores are improved by paying bills on time and lowering debt.
However, Vanguard scores are not affected by collections that have been paid off but can be positively improved by things like utility bills and rent that are paid on time.
According to Credit Karma complaints on the BBB, credit scores listed on the site frequently differ by around 40 points – a huge difference when considering the scale of credit scores. These complaints against Credit Karma mention that businesses, like banks and leasing companies, pull up very different numbers when verifying credit scores. The variation can be explained by the differences between Vanguard scores and FICO scores.
If you choose to use Credit Karma for obtaining and monitoring your credit score, be aware that the Vanguard score you see could be significantly higher than the FICO score you could find elsewhere.
Creditkarma.com complaints take issue with the site only offering one score, but you can find your FICO score elsewhere and compare the two for a more accurate look at your financial situation. Forbes shares information about how to find your FICO score for free, for those who are interested.
Should You Choose Credit Karma?
Credit scores can tell you so much about your financial history and future. It’s important to monitor changes in your score and continue to find ways to improve that number. Services like Credit Karma can help by providing an estimated credit score, areas where you can improve your financial situation, and other tips.
Image Source: Credit Karma Services
After reading about CreditKarma complaints and benefits, you can decide if the company’s free credit score services are right for you. If you choose to use Credit Karma to monitor your credit score and make changes to improve your score, be sure to check your FICO score as well. If you’re aware of the potential drawbacks, you may be able to use the free tools and services from the company to keep track of and increase your credit score.
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