CreditSesame.com Review Scam Or Legit Site For Free Credit Scores?

Update: Credit Sesame now uses TransUnion data, more on that change can be found here.

credit sesame logoCredit Sesame (CS) was launched in 2010 by Adrian Nazari and has received over 18 million dollars in start up funds from various venture capital firms. Their main selling points are that they offer free: credit scores, credit monitoring and alerts and analysis of your credit & loans. They don’t require a credit card to sign up and accounts are automatically updated monthly (along with an updated credit score).

Is all of this too good to be true? Is Credit Sesame a scam? We signed up for their service to see what the truth really was. 

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Credit Sesame Credit Scores

Are the scores really free?

With most credit monitoring services there is a free trial period and then you start being billed monthly once it finishes. Credit Sesame doesn’t have a trial period, it starts off free and never stops being free. They don’t require a credit card to sign up, so there is no way for them to charge you even if they wanted to start.

Are The Scores Accurate?

Credit sesame uses what is known as the Experian National Equivalency score. The score is accurate for what it is, but this is not the same score lenders look at when you make an application for a loan.

Lenders look at what is known as a FICO score, this is calculated differently to the score sesame provides and even has a different range (360-840 for sesame and 300-850 for FICO).

I decided to check my Equivalency score and my FICO score on the same day (and choosing an Experian FICO from myFICO.com as that’s the credit bureau credit sesame uses) to see what the difference is between my two scores.

[Read: How To Get A Free FICO Score]

My Credit Sesame score was 833 (just 7 below the maximum, wow!)
My Experian FICO score was 821

That’s a difference of 12 points and a lot closer than I thought it would be. Both put me into the excellent category, meaning I should be approved for all credit cards and offered the best interest rates.

We decided to do some additional research and trawled other blogs and message boards, in total we found 63 people that had both a credit sesame score and a FICO score publicly viewable. The average difference was 33 points. A difference of 33 points is massive and could easily put people into a different scoring category.

[Read: FICO Score Vs Experian National Equivalency Score]

How Is The Score Calculated?

Neither Experian or Credit Sesame publicly stated how the Equivalency score is calculated, only that it’s extremely similar to the scoring algorithm FICO uses for their score. They do have a sector that says: “Key Factors Impacting Your Score”, unfortunately mine just says “Congratulations, you have an excellent score”.

key factors that impact your score

 

This isn’t very helpful to credit newbies with a good score who want to maintain or improve on their already good start.

[Read: How Is A FICO Score Calculated?]

Other Features

Goal Setting

It’s possible to set goals and then receive advice on how to reach those goals. For example, I can choose “Increase my credit score” as a goal and then I’ll be presented with advice on how to achieve this goal.

The advice given is fairly basic, but for credit newbies I can see this being useful. The main problem I have with their goal setting feature is that it’s predominantly used as a way for Credit Sesame to unsuspecting customers. For example, one piece of advice they give is to check your credit reports for inaccuracies and then dispute these inaccuracies. Rather than informing consumers they have the right to a free credit report from each of the bureaus every year, they try to sell their customers an Experian report for $9.95.
goal setting improve credit

To me this shows they are more concerned about making money than actually helping their users get into a better financial position.

Credit Monitoring

They also offer free credit monitoring of your Experian credit report. This will only notify you of major changes, such as a new application for credit being made or a debt being marked as delinquent.

It’s useful to monitor your credit report, especially as it’s a good way of catching identity theft early. It would be good if they also showed a complete credit report, but as they are constantly trying to sell these that’s unlikely.

Identity Theft Protection

Credit Sesame recently announced that they now provide consumers with free identity theft insurance. Coverage is up to $50,000 in expenses. You can only claim expenses that are related to restoring your identity for example:

  • Phone bills
  • Lost wages (usually only up to a maximum of four weeks)
  • Notary and certified mailing costs
  • Postage
  • Obtaining credit reports (this can be done for free through http://www.annualcreditreport.com)

You cannot claim loses due to identity theft (e.g fraudulent activity on your bank accounts or credit cards). They also give you free access to a live identity restoration specialists who will help you restore your identity.

How Do They Make Money?

CS makes money by showing tailored loans and credit cards to their members. When a member applies or is approved for one of these products they receive commission. They also make money through partnerships. For example they currently power mint.com’s home loan tool and receive commission whenever a consumer signs up for a loan through that tool.

They also make additional money by selling access to your credit reports for $9.95. Users should remember that they legally have access to their credit reports (one from each bureau) once every twelve months. They can also get an additional two credit reports per year for free by signing up to Quizzle (no credit card required).

[Read: How to get your free credit reports]

Is Credit Sesame Safe?

Credit Sesame was founded by Adrian Nazari who also co-founded Financial Crossing, it’s also been backed by two large venture capital firms, Inventus Capital & Menlo Ventures. Because of this and the following security certificates we believe the information that’s stored on the Credit Sesame servers is secure.

Because they don’t have access to your credit card, there is no way for them to charge you. So there is no risk of them sneaking in charges.

credit sesame security

Will using credit sesame hurt my credit score?

No. When you use credit sesame they do a soft pull on your credit report, this is not used by any scoring algorithms to calculate your credit score and isn’t something lenders consider when you apply for a new loan.

Our Verdict

The main reason to sign up to Credit Sesame is for the free credit score, unfortunately because this is a FAKO score that’s not used by lenders there is little point in tracking and trying to improve it.

The additional features Sesame offers are designed to drive more revenue and profit for them, rather than actually helping consumers. Other credit monitoring providers are a better option for consumers as they either provide a score that lenders look at (Credit Karma) or a complete credit report (Quizzle).

In our opinion it’s not worth signing up for Credit Sesame, but it doesn’t cost anything and it’s safe – so why not see for yourself?

join now button

Credit Sesame Contact Information

E-mail address

Phone number

  • 1-800-881-6590

Social Media

Other inquiries and e-mail addresses can be found on the credit sesame contact us page.


44 Responses to CreditSesame.com Review Scam Or Legit Site For Free Credit Scores?

  1. signed up for credit sesame and was a free member. I then decided okay so I signed for the 9.95 deal, account was charged and this didn’t even link with my account with credit sesame. Highly disappointed.
    Prefer Credit Karma by 10 folds.

    • Good Morning,

      You guys are funny. I have an e-mail, you send ‘ME’ notices via e-mail. I respond via the same e-mail, I then inform YOU to terminate my service. YOU then wish to ‘QUESTION’ whether I am who I am. Had I asked to check on credit status, you guys would jump through hoops. I am

      • Not sure why you’re saying YOU. Considering this is a personal blog. Your issue is with Credit Sesame, but word of advice don’t post your full name and D.O.B on a public blog. Not sure what you being BLACK has to do with anything either. I’ve removed your personal information, but please be more careful in future.

        • Phillip says:

          I visited the Credit Sesame site and posted on ‘their’ page under ‘review’. How the heck you got involved is beyond me. Secondly, I don’t require a third party to co-sign for some fly by night scheme. I KNOW what I experienced with them. How do YOU fit into the equation is of YOUR OWN design. Coming from me, ….. but out! Compensated sponsor!

        • Phillip says:

          HEY DOC,
          HERE YOU GO BACKING UP ENTITIES AND YOU DON’T EVEN DIAGNOSE THE PROBLEM. I JUST MOMENTS AGO RECEIVED AN E-MAIL FROM YOUR EMPLOYER ‘CREDIT SESAME’ THAT NOW GET THIS ….. MY CREDIT SCORE HAS BEEN UPDATED!! WHEN IN FACT ‘CREDIT SESAME’ ASSURED ME ON THE 26TH OF JUNE, THEY ‘D-E-L-E-T-E-D’ (YOU GOT THAT) MY INFORMATION. I SHALL PRESS ON WITH THE ‘BAD’ PUBLICITY AND REJOICE IN THEIR FAILURE TO ALLURE MO’ SUCKERS. CARE TO RESPOND?

          • Jason says:

            Credit Sesame is not DOC’s employer. This blog or this page is a review on a third party website, just like you can write about your review on amazon and ebay, or anyone else to write anything about a movie that they just watched. You got a problem with credit sesame and that’s your own problem. You were the only one who did not know your own problem.

            Get education, and show respect to others.

          • Peter Parker says:

            Yeesh. I don’t think Phillips knows how the internet/world works. He is angry and yelling at anyone he can. Kinda funny.

          • Peter Parker says:

            hey dope, credit sesame is in the business of making money. Don’t you get that? I think you might be a sucker. If you don’t know, you should ask around.

        • jamie says:

          I personally think Phillip is lost! Took a wrong turn in Albuquerque, Ha! Anyway, thank you for your REVIEW of credit sesame. I have been using them but had many questions, you answered several.

        • Tone says:

          you say that it might not even be worth it. You are a lousy “paid” employee! LOL 😉

    • rachael says:

      Paid $31.90 for me and my husband to get the best membership and credit monitoring. My bank account was charged for the two accounts and we have not recieved any extra services. Ive called sent emails and cant get a call back or an email.. Credit sesame is a scam im completely disgusted with the company and its standards… credit karma is amazing i wish i would have found their website first

  2. marcy says:

    I gave my social security number to sesame credit and im worried it was a scam am I safe or no??? thank you if u can let me know asap thanks again

    • It’s fine, although if you’re not sure you should be more careful in the future.

    • Also, be VERY AWARE FOLKS, I signed up with these folks to ‘check the credit score’, within a matter of a week and a half, I received bad news, creditors were on my trail, garnishes and the WHOLE nine. My advice:

      LEAVE THIS SITE/COMPANY ALONE, THEY WILL ‘OPEN DOORS’ YOU PROBABLY MEANT TO KEEP CLOSED.

      • Ashley says:

        Maybe you should have kept up on your payments or worked something out with the creditors. Ive had no problems with credit sesame and as a matter of fact i love it! I think its a great way to keep somewhat on track and stay in charge of your credit without the hassle of verifing your identity on credit karma.

      • Webber says:

        Maybe pay your bills then, deadbeat. If you’re that buried, you need to see a credit counselor, not an online gimmick.

  3. Peter says:

    I have used this site for years its free and helpful kind of. My score difference between them and the real Fico was huge 80 point difference though.

  4. Greg says:

    I have and micromanage my 3 scores via Myfico.com score monitoring, the absolute best 19.99 a month I spend. Though my experian score on myfico is 730 shy of excellent right now by 10pts, and CS gives me a 753, I find it to be leaps and bounds better than credit karma that list my Equifax at 620 when it is 709 on the fico 8, 700 on fico 6, even worse it lists my transunion as 640 when it’s 744 on myfico landing me in the excellent or green, over 100pts difference, and a 89 pt variable difference in my EQ… Sadly before I knew how skewed this score was, also cap one score watch isn’t worth even looking at either… I have amex platinum, citi prestige,Chase Marriott preferred,venture, quicksilver, discover it, Barclays arrival elite, Chase Amazon with a litany of retail cards Amazon, Brooks bros,Bloomingdale,Macy’s,gap, tjx, Wal-Mart, men’s warehouse etc that I got due to not having a legitimate score, I thought I needed to build credit, when I could’ve just applied for the aforementioned CCs instead, with just a few of the 13 retail cards, and 2 credit one cards that I’m stuck with as they are my oldest cards! The 20 a month to access the credit ctr, 3 scores as well as all other fico version for EQ&EX if serious about bldg credit, is the best monies by one can spend in this consumer’s humble opinion… that being said, CS will if aanything flatter you, which is still dangerous, but PLEASE if you are tracking your credit via CK STOP! AND CHECK MY FICO, EVEN IF YOU JUST GET THE TRIAL MONTH, @ LEAST YOU WILL GET AACCURACY!

    • Jewell says:

      If you have a credit card, chances are you’re paying unnecessarily for this “service”. Many credit card companies now provide you with your up-to-date score, free. Check it out. Just sayin’.

  5. Jewell says:

    I’ve used Credit Sesame for years as a way to monitor credit usage & my credit score. I have normally ranged from the mid-to-high 700s (good to excellent). I pull all three credit reports each year because it’s just smart to do so. I have had NO late pays or other derogatory marks on any of my reports. I refinanced my home recently to a better rate & rolled up a HELOC into the package. I lost a year in the process (was in year 19 of a 30-yr fixed rate conventional with no PMI) and refinanced to a 20-yr note. Not bad. My house even appraised well over where I thought it would, giving me equity which allowed me to avoid PMI on the refinanced note. Good deal.

    All of a sudden I get an alert from Credit Sesame concerning my score, which had dropped precipitously to the low 600s! What?? I wasn’t able to get into my profile & amend my home’s value, so I shot them a note & asked them how to do this, only to be greeted by “suggested questions” from other subscribers who apparently have had this same experience.

    So I went over to Capital One’s site & pulled my credit score. 731. Just where I thought it should be.

    I know what’s going on. The credit bureaus are either silent partners, displayed partners, or owners of sites like these. They want you to pay for monitoring information which THEY gather on you. It’s a scam. These sites also partner with lenders & get finders fees.

    I have already sent a note to Credit Sesame telling them to get my info right, or I’m gone. No big loss to them, since I’m a “free” subscriber. Just an FYI -don’t fall for the scam.

    • HOLLA! The woman SPEAKS THE TRUTH. Read my experience with Credit Sesame whydoncha? Finders fee…… Very interesting it was spoken of, my tangle with them is of the same substance.

    • DOU says:

      Thanks Jewell, I’m going to spread the news about CS. My daughter told me to check it out but she’s been sorely misinformed.

  6. Jewell says:

    Just another FYI – Years ago in May/2001, my ss card was stolen. It was never recovered. Who knows where it went, but at the time I contacted all credit reporting agencies and asked for a lock to be put on my credit file. No new accounts or credit lines could be opened without me or anyone else having to jump thru hoops. Good deal & it remained in force for 7 yrs. May/2008, I was notified by the credit reporting agencies that the lock would be lifted. I informed them that my ss card was never recovered, so please reapply the lock for 7 yrs. They declined -they could lock for 90 days, but…….So I wrote them a letter informing them further that it’s now on record that I have warned them about my particular vulnerability. It is THEY who gather this information on me (without my consent, mind you) and therefore it is THEIR responsibility to protect it in any way possible. And if they thought I would pay for them to gather this information on me, then leave me open to potential identity theft, they were out of their minds.

    I am aware that credit reporting agencies keep separate databases. One for dignitaries (like elected officials) & wealthy people. And another for the rabble. If information is inaccurate on your file, WHOSE FAULT IS IT? Yours, or the agency gathering information on you without your consent? The squeaky wheel, folks. BE ONE. I have yet to have any issues with my credit reports. I have yet to be informed that there is no longer a lock on my file, so I assume there is one.

    Be the squeaky wheel. Don’t let these corporations push you around & get you to pay THEM for this information!

    • Amen fellow being. I’ll take it even further, I agreed to a “credit score” with credit sesame and despite my NOT BEING HARRASSED by creditors for ……. YEARS! Within a months time a Marshall started garnishment on my wages, SOMEONE on their staff accepts a ‘finders fee’ for giving you up. BELIEVE THAT!

  7. payam says:

    I had a mambership from this company but this company website was very slow and also i colud not to see my score do not pay to this company at all after pay the service noting costumer service o star

  8. sienna says:

    I first signed up for credit sesame about a month ago. I have never had a credit card before, and I don’t think I’ve ever applied for one or even gotten a credit report before. So considering all of this was expecting not to have score at all, but after completing the sign up according to Credit Seseme my score was 710. I was surprised but also happy to know this. My daughter is the one who told me about the website, she also never had credit or anything like that (she is only 21) but when she signed up for the first time she found out her score was 680 she applied for one of the same credit cards Credit Seseme suggested just to see what would happen, and she got approved.
    So I decided to try to apply for the same , just so I could start building my credit and use it for emergencies, * but when I logged into my Credit Seseme account today and first it told me my credit score was 0 (zero).!?
    Than pressed the ‘refresh my score’ button and the page reload and my score changed to a 4. Has this ever happened to anyone before? There would be no reason for my score to drop that much it just doesn’t make sense? If anyone has any information or advice to give meh would appreciate it! Thank you!

  9. Anon says:

    This info is wrong and misleading, not surprising since they are paid for sending people to Credit Sesame. CS did hard pull of my credit and lowered my score. Lies here. AVOID!

  10. lACEY says:

    This site sucks. Keeps on saying it cant find my info…. I have no problems on Credit Karma. DON’T USE!!!

  11. Pingback: Credit Sesame: Free Credit Score & ID Protection

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  13. Just Use Credit Karma says:

    SCAM

  14. boridi says:

    Just signed up. Bunch of references to information from Transunion in my account, no mention of Experian

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  16. sb says:

    Fair warning…as soon as I signed up for the free trial I started receiving tons of spam mail.

  17. Linda's says:

    The site will not let me change my password?

  18. DOU says:

    Thanks for the great information regarding CS being paid a finders fee. I’m leaving them immediately. Not to mention there is a 80 point difference in my TRUE fico score than what CS has.

  19. k says:

    thats cheater and criminel. police is on activate

  20. tj says:

    So I signed up with Credit sesame last month and looked over their recommendations. The report they get is only from TransUnion. I happened to also grab my 3 free annual credit reports from each of the major credit repositories and noticed that there was a credit card inquiry from SYNC/JCP PLCC. I did NOT apply for this. At first I thought that it was a “promo” as I am always getting offers. Upon looking at it again, it was a real inquiry. I called the Transunion to confirm and they were able to do that. I contacted the creditor and found out that in fact my SSN and information had been used to apply for the card. They had outdated information on my address etc so the card didn’t go through. Only TransUnion was used to pull credit. Coincidence, or did Credit Sesame leak my information?

  21. Lisha says:

    Credit Sesame IS A SCAM!!!!

  22. geo says:

    what a scam. this just like credit karma. they both only have transunion and experian what happened to eqiufax. i was really disappointed to find out that this is just another credit karma,something creditors don’t even look at

  23. NinjaX says:

    love the comment section here. my fav.

  24. carol says:

    Credit Sesame is nothing but a website for them to push companies on you. They act like they are here to help us get our credit under control, yet their “recommended loan companies” APR is 3 to 4 times higher or more than the credit cards i was wanting to pay off. When i realized this (after submitting an application, and now they have my info!!) and i emailed them asking why they would suggest those companies if they were actually trying to help people, they emailed me back about how i could unsubscribe!! They are seriously the most unhelpful customer service ever. I immediately unsubscribed.

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