Credit Sesame Safe, Scam or Legit?

Updated: 12/2013

Looks like most of the below is still correct for Credit Sesame. The catch comes on Step 3 of the signup process where you are asked to “do more” with your credit score by adding “goals”. Some clicks there and you’ll get targeted ads, and maybe more. There isn’t a way to skip this step, so choose something you don’t mind hearing about, and as always use your “store email” or “email list” email address. (You should have a separate email address that you never use for anything “real” that helps avoid hacking attempts and keeps your real inbox clean. If you don’t have one, get a free email from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, or other service before signing up.) I chose rewards cards when I signed up and the first thing at the very top of my screen every time I log in is a message saying that I could save money with a rewards card. — Also, beware of those “Buy Now” buttons.

Credit Sesame is another in a growing list of online services that allow you to view and monitor your credit score for free. We’ve already looked at some of these services. First, we checked to see if Credit Karma is a scam. Then, we looked at whether Quizzle is a scam. Credit Sesame looks like these other online service on the surface, but let’s dive in an look deeper before we decide whether Credit Sesame is safe, legit or a scam.

credit sesame credit score graphicJust like we noted when doing our Credit Karma review, the credit score you get from Credit Sesame is not a free FICO score. While the Credit Karma score comes from Transunion, the Credit Sesame credit score comes from Experian. The Credit Sesame credit score is the Experian Credit Score, which is a real credit score, but not as widely used by lenders as the FICO score is. You can update your score monthly.  Credit Sesame credit monitoring a free service that sends you an email and alerts you when you log on if something negative gets added to your credit report.

The best use of a service like this is not to focus on the actual number. Your real credit score is the one the lender uses when you are trying to get a loan or credit card, or whatever. You almost never have access to that number. Even a subscription to myFICO only gives you one of the many different numbers that are available to lenders. Instead of worrying about what your actual number is, use Credit Sesame to track the direction your credit score is moving in. That way, you can see if you are doing the right things, or if a financial move ended up making things worse.

Like the others, the company makes money thanks to advertising from financial companies, like credit card issuers and lenders, as well as getting commissions on referrals to products. In fact, the company says that one of the service they provide is to “Optimize Your Current Loans.” If you sign up for Credit Sesame, you’ll know doubt be informed that you could save hundreds of dollars by signing up for other cards or loans that, of course, you can click on a link in order to get started right away. You do not have to enter a credit card to sign up for Credit Sesame. This is your best clue that Credit Sesame is safe enough to use. Without a credit card number they can’t charge you for something without you knowing. If you ever click on something that starts asking for a credit card number, close the window and start over. This is your key to not getting charged anything for your free credit score.

Credit Sesame vs Credit Karma

In addition to using different credit bureaus’ credit reports to calculate your credit score, there are some differences in the features between Credit Sesame versus Credit Karma.

Is Credit Sesame Safe?

It is always difficult to decide whether to trust an online service like Credit Sesame with your confidential personal information. At some level, if you are going to use their service you have to trust them, just like you do when you give a bank or financial institution your credit information, social security number and the like. There is never any way to know 100 percent for sure if something is safe, but there is a reality check that typically can show you the way.

For example, Credit Sesame was founded in April of 2010, so it hardly qualifies as fly-by-night. The company has also been profiled by several mainstream news publications, who, theoretically, would have noticed if the company was a bald-faced scam.

Second, the company has raised nearly $7.5 million in capital from some well known investors and venture capital firms. This isn’t a blank check for trust, but running an online scam generally doesn’t go hand in hand with raising several millions of dollars from investors. If you were trying to run off to Rio with a bunch of money, pocketing the millions you got from investors is probably faster and more lucrative than selling off the financial data of little old ladies.

Finally, the founder of the company has a real, verifiable track record as an entrepreneur who not only has founded financial companies in the past, but also sold them to very legitimate financial corporations.

In the end, Credit Sesame offers a useful service for most users.

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