After getting over the initial shock of one of my faithful readers actually asking a question (which is what I initially hoped this blog to receive a lot of), I reviewed Credit Karma's website http://www.creditkarma.com/ as I had never heard of Credit Karma before Marie's comment. I thought, perhaps, Credit Karma is a distant cousin of the mythical Credit Fairy, which I posted about here http://fcralawyer.blogspot.com/search/label/creditfairy.org.
As it turns out, Credit Karma is a lot like quizzle.com. It claims to provide free credit scores for those willing to register on its website. It claims it pays for the costs of obtaining the credit scores by utilizing advertising dollars from selling ad space on its website.
My initial thought was the same as quizzle.com, i.e. the site provides "a" score but not necessarily "the" score that your creditors receive. That's because many large creditors utilize their own unique scoring models so there's no way to see that score before you apply (and maybe not even after you apply) to those creditors for credit. Smaller creditors use standard scoring models, such as FICO. Its possible that Credit Karma also uses a standard scoring model, but I searched their website up and down and could not find even a hint as to what scoring model they use. Therefore, Credit Karma, like quizzle.com, is good for finding out generally how your credit score fares but don't count on it to be exact. But, at least its free to find this out using Credit Karma or quizzle.com, whereas you'd have to pay the credit bureaus to get the same "almost" score.
One thing that did concern me about Credit Karma is how do they get your score without it being a hard inquiry on your credit report. When you buy your score from one of the three credit bureaus, it does not impact your credit score because it does not count as an inquiry against your credit report. However, when a third party accesses your credit report (i.e. to get the information needed to generate your credit score), it will show up as a hard inquiry and thus, potentially, negatively impact your credit score.
Yet, Credit Karma claims the opposite. Here's what they say on their FAQ page:
Will using Credit Karma lower my credit score?Maybe Credit Karma is some subsidiary of one of the three credit bureaus and that's how they accomplish getting your score without causing a hard inquiry. Otherwise, I don't see how they do it and am a bit suspicious.
No. Credit Karma is making the credit score request on your behalf. Inquires made on your behalf will not be shown to creditors and will not affect your credit score.
Have any of you out there gotten your credit score via Credit Karma and then looked at your full report to see if a hard inquiry showed up? Or have any of you used Credit Karma at all? If so, I (and maybe Marie too) would be interested in hearing what you found.