WASHINGTON (1/13/15)--President Barack Obama highlighted the role credit unions can play in identifying and preventing identity theft during his Monday remarks at the Federal Trade Commission.
Free access to credit scores from Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO) gives consumers an opportunity to check the well-being of their finances and their identity--something many credit unions provide as a membership benefit.
"Through this effort over half of all adult Americans with credit scores will now have access to this tool to help spot identity theft, through their banks, card issuers or lenders," Obama said. (See related stories: President announces 30-day data breach notification bill; CUNA, CUs stay on top of data breach effects.)
While consumers can request free copies of their credit reports from the three reporting bureaus--Equifax, Experian and TransUnion--they historically have had to pay for the FICO score.
Some of major banking institutions listed in the president's statement restrict free credit scores to borrowers or credit card holders.
Meanwhile, many credit unions have been providing the information and the tools to assess it for free.
For instance, Chicago-based Alliant CU, with $8.2 billion in assets, provides members their VantageScore free through its online banking portal.
Members of Digital FCU, Marlborough, Mass., with $5.5 billion in assets, can sign up to receive their FICO score monthly for free and receive reasons why it's not higher and steps to improve the score.
In his remarks, the president noted $28 billion-asset State Employees' CU, Raleigh, N.C., as one of the financial institutions that provides free FICO scores.