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Free credit scores for military members

How active-duty armed service members can get a FICO score and access to financial services at no charge.

By MSN Money Partner May 13, 2011 1:36PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

Having lived in the Washington, D.C., area for 20 years, I've seen firsthand the sacrifices military personnel and their families make each and every day. The late-night visits to my home when a Marine needs help with his will before heading overseas is a solemn reminder of what's at stake for these families.

 

So it's always nice to see companies go out of their way to offer special deals and perks to our military. And that's true even for something as mundane as a free FICO credit score offer.

 

Active-duty service members and their spouses can now receive their FICO scores for free. In addition, they can access educational information and tools at FICO.com for free. Get ready for a mouthful when you hear the name of the organization responsible for this: the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation. We'll just stick to FINRA. (Note: For the history buffs among you, FINRA is the successor of an organization you've probably heard of -- the National Association of Securities Dealers, better known as NASD).

FINRA is not a small outfit, but rather a huge, far-reaching independent regulator of all securities firms doing business in the U.S. They employ about 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C., and 20 regional offices, and oversee more than 630,000 registered securities representatives and 4,500 brokerage firms. They are also under contract to regulate the major U.S. stock markets. Post continues after video.

Investor education for military

FINRA clearly plays an important financial regulatory role. But it also dedicates a huge amount of resources to investor education through the Investor Education Foundation. This foundation began in 2003 and FINRA has set aside about $50 million for investor education and protection initiatives. Included in its effort is the offer to provide free FICO scores and FICO education tools to the military community.

 

FINRA is working with the Department of Defense's network of advisers and counselors to roll out this education effort. Besides receiving a FICO score -- the most important score used to assess credit risk -- service members and spouses will gain access to the FICO Standard service. This allows service members to use a FICO score simulator that analyzes how certain decisions -- paying off a credit card or opening a new bank account, for example -- will affect a credit score.

The FINRA Foundation has also partnered with the Department of Defense Financial Readiness Campaign to present financial education forums at military bases around the world. If military members prefer to go online, they can visit a free, unbiased website created by FINRA. Here, military members and spouses can study up on everything from saving for college to buying a home to saving for retirement.

 

Why is this service important?

Your credit score, particularly your FICO score, is immensely important in your financial life. It dictates how much you will pay for a credit card, mortgage, or any number of loans. It can even affect the cost of everything from car insurance to cellphones.

 

The more knowledge you have about your personal credit score and how your behavior affects your score, the better prepared you'll be to tackle your finances. By providing military members free access to FICO scores and educational tools, FINRA is giving them the tools to make smart, informed financial decisions.

 

If you're a member of the military interested in seeing your FICO score for free, contact the military financial educator at your local installation. There is no promo code available on myFICO.com, and you will not be reimbursed if you request your score online.

 

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