A decidedly unscientific survey of my Facebook fans showed that some who applied for loans and cards recently received scores, while others received the notice.

Ulzheimer says he thinks lenders are "trying to avoid some awkward phone calls," noting that a general letter directing you to your credit report is far less likely to trigger a reaction than a letter disclosing your actual score and telling you that you didn't quite measure up to others.

People who get their scores "are going to pick up the phone and call the bank," Ulzheimer said. "They're not going to pick up the phone and call FICO ... and banks want to avoid that conversation as long as possible."

Broader disclosure on the way

Lenders' ability to dodge those calls will end July 21, when a second law, called the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act, passed last year, kicks in and supersedes the current law's notices.

This law is much broader, and requires that lenders, insurers and others that use scores to evaluate you must disclose those scores to you if you're denied or given less than the best available deal. You'll get the scores if you:

  • Are turned down for credit, insurance or a rental property.
  • Have to pay more for credit or insurance than others.
  • Have to put down a bigger deposit for utilities, cell phone service or a rental property than others.
  • Are required to get a co-signer to qualify.

This is really going to crack open the vault. In addition to seeing the classic FICO scores that mortgage lenders traditionally use, Ulzheimer predicts people are going to start seeing "flavors of FICO we haven't seen anywhere before," such as those tweaked for auto or credit-card lenders. We'll also start seeing the different scores used by insurers, such as LexisNexis' Attract score.

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The disclosure should lay waste to the credit bureaus' claims that "a score is a score" and that it doesn't really matter which one you see, when the vast majority of scores that loan applicants see will be FICO scores. And it should raise more awareness, and discussion, of how credit is used in insurance decisions.

Ulzheimer predicts "welcome confusion" as people start seeing all these different scores. He says he thinks, as I do, that this will provoke some much-needed discussion -- among individuals, lawmakers and regulators -- about what goes into these scores and how important they are. I'm hoping it will also spur some action so that the rest of us get equal access to these scores.

Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.