I get a fair amount of people coming to the Finance Gourmet to talk about various financial topics, as you might expect for a personal finance blog. For the most part, I keep that kind of stuff offline for various reasons, not the least of which, many financial topics are private, especially when you start dealing in specifics. However, from time to time, enough people come with the same question to warrant a new post or finance article. The latest inner workings of Credit Karma seem to fit the bill.
Credit Karma Updates
In my original reviews of Credit Karma one of the things that seemed very interesting was that you could update your credit score on creditkarma.com whenever you wanted. Now, in reality, there is no reason to get a daily update to your credit score. In fact, unless you are waiting for something specific to be reported to your credit report, even a weekly update isn’t that necessary. For most tracking purposes, something on the order of monthly is probably sufficient.
That being said, when I first started using Credit Karma it allowed you to run an update to your score virtually any time you wanted to. While I never ran daily updates, my curiosity got the better of me and I did update weekly or more occasionally. Sometimes, there was no change, but just as often, there was a little change. My score might move up or down by just one point. On other occasions, just one of the three different scores it tracks would change. So, while the updates may have been inconsequential, they were still there.
Lately, however, my score seems to not change, at all, ever. For nearly three months now, no matter when I update, my scores stay exactly the same. Specifically, all three scores say exactly the same. This is odd for several reasons. First, my balances change on any given month. For example, I just bought a new dishwasher, so there is an increase of approximately $500 in my balances. While I will pay it off when the bill comes, it still has been reported. Now, $500 doesn’t exactly make an Earth-shattering change to my utilization percentages, or anything, but coupled with the rest of the monthly fluctuations, it should probably add up to a one-point difference.
My wife’s account shows similar behavior, as do the accounts of several readers of this site who report getting no changes at all when they update their scores.
All of this begs the question. Is Credit Karma still updating scores whenever you click update, or are they patronizing users by just returning the same scores? Or, just as possible, were they patronizing us before by showing little one-point changes when really, there was nothing going on?
Credit Carma Scam
It seems that there is an unfortunate scam on Credit Karma users, or rather attempted Credit Karma users. If you misspell Karma and end up at creditcarma.com, or other sites you may find the age-old credit reporting scam where your “free” offer is really a $40 trial offer, or worse.
Remember, Credit Karma does NOT ask for a credit card number during the regular sign up. If you are asked to enter a valid credit card number, close the website and don’t look back.
However, there is a new ADD-ON feature where you can link your credit card accounts to your Credit Karma account in order to monitor them through the service. I haven’t looked into that yet, so I can’t comment on it. The basic signup, however, should NOT ask for a credit card number. If it does, you are in the wrong place. Close your browser window and type creditkarma.com directly into the url field. Do not click through an email or link that might be invisibly be redirecting you to a scam website instead.