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Cheat Sheet Q&A:  Where to get secure credit scores online


Today’s entry: 


Love your am show, I have a question, maybe you can help me!
I would like to check my credit score, where could I go online to check it? (I’m concerned about safety/security, identity theft, etc). Thank you for your time, all the best....

Bottom Line:  This is an excellent question.  If you search online for credit scores you’ll be presented with a myriad of options.  You certainly should be skeptical about the security of the services and accuracy of the information provided.  So let’s get started…


No true free credit scores are available from the sites like Credit  Now credit is a good site with terrific information and resources for you to take advantage of for free but you won’t get the actual credit scores you’re looking for.  Credit Karma has a partnership with Trans Union to provide an estimated score based on certain data from Trans Union called the “Trans Risk” score.  It may provide a rough estimate of what your actual Trans Union credit score may be but that’s about it.  That’s true of so many of the other sites that purport to offer free credit scores without provider a credit card number.  So where should you go?


So let’s first take a step back at what scores are available and how they are used by those who will evaluate them.  You have two metrics that matter.  You have the three consumer credit ratings agencies:

Trans Union

You really need to have a credit score from each one of these consumer credit agencies because if a business or entity evaluates your “credit score” the method that’s most commonly used works like this…  They will drop the highest score and the lowest score, with the middle score being the one that’s used.   The single score that’s most relevant isn’t one of those numbers however…

If you want just
one score
your Fico score is the way to go.  Over 90% of businesses will now use Fico, in conjunction with, or instead of the credit scores provided by the consumer credit rating agencies.  So where should you go to get the information online? is the best site to obtain your fico score (and the also have their own estimator if that’ll do for your purposes) and they also do bundle all credit score for you to purchase if you’re so inclined

But what is the most cost effective way to obtain the scores?

While purchasing scores from the sites will run you about $10 for each score, if you already use an ID protection service (which I recommend) you generally can upgrade your service for a couple of dollars per month to obtain all three of your credit scores on a regular basis.  Identity Guard is the service I prefer and for a mid-level plan you can get all three scores each quarter and one of them every month with the service.   So if ID protection and your real credit scores are something you’d like to monitor that’s the way I’d recommend going. 


If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:


Audio Report: 




What can be learned (an important lesson) by presidential approval ratings in individual states:


Bottom Line:  You’ll notice that I rarely discuss the President’s average approval rating (since the 2012 election cycle).  While I’m glad to see that a majority of Americans view the President’s performance as being poor, there is nothing constructive in my view with endlessly piling on about the President’s poor approval ratings.  So if I do discuss Presidential approval ratings it’s because I’ve picked up on data that’s instructive.  Such is the case today. 


President Obama’s average approval rating nationally stands at 42% right now.  That’s in-line with most of what we’ve seen over the past year which has seen his approval rating range from 40-45% (in an average of all polls).  So if I were to tell you that in a particular state the President has an approval rating of 45%, that would seem completely normal, unless…


The state I’m referring too is one in which the President won in both election cycles.  It’s one in which he won with greater than 60% of the vote in both election cycles.  It’s one of the most widely viewed barometers of left leaning policy.  It’s one of the largest states in the country.  I believe that without any of those hints I could give the average astute political observers 45 guesses before that’d identify California as the state that currently sports a 45% approval rating of the President. 


One year ago today the President’s approval rating in Cali was 62%.  A 17% decline in one of the biggest Democratic strong-holds in the country breaks a couple of myths.  The ideas that certain people or parts of the country won’t change their political perspective and for all intents and purposes should be “written off” as unwinnable for the typical opposition party candidates…  Especially notable in the Cali approval rating is the decline in the most liberal cities in California.  The President has seen a decline of 11% in Las Angeles and 7% in San Francisco year over year.   It doesn’t mean that suddenly Californians have suddenly turned into conservatives but it does demonstrate that many people previously written off by many conservatives are hungry for better leadership and policy.  This is a learning opportunity. 


Audio Report:




What most need to learn from the celebrity nude hack story:


Bottom Line:  The real lesson from the whole big celeb iCloud hack story for everyone is how much info we are actually storing online – often without realizing it.  If you have a mobile device and cloud storage there’s a good chance you’re putting all of your mobile information online without ever realizing it.  Virtually every mobile company has cloud storage that they offer as added value (Apple iCloud, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc).  They’ll enable a certain amount of storage for free with an active mobile device.  If you had your mobile device setup by your service provider there is a good chance that your device is automatically backing itself up on the cloud.  That means every picture as well.  This is what to the celebs.  They didn’t likely realize that once they took pictures on their phone, that they were actually being stored online.  There can be benefit to the backing up of your phone (if your phone were lost or damaged for example) but clearly it can present issues as well.  You do have the option to turn off the auto cloud features in the settings on your mobile devices. 

Audio Report:




YouTube just turned into a legit business for the talented few who have a real following:


Bottom Line:  For enterprising individuals YouTube has been the largest video platform available to attempt to use as a marketing tool.  That means that hopefully you can gain a bit of a following with your video postings and some of them may be steered to visiting your website and perhaps doing business with you at some point.  It hasn’t been a business opportunity unto itself (expect for its parent Google) – until now. 


Google has now enabled a new YouTube feature called “Fan Funding”.  Think of it as a way to tip videos that you think are worth tipping.  For those few who do a great job capturing the imagination of a following of viewers to their videos they may now be able to turn YouTube into a legitimate business.  It’s basically crowd-funding for YouTube videos.  Now the catch as of now is that Google has only enabled Google Wallet as a method to “Fan Fund” videos but it is believed that in short order they’ll accept more payment methods. 


Audio Report: 

The tangled web we weed...  The curious case of
Colorado's Marijuana tax shortfall (and important takeaways for other states):


Bottom Line:  If you’re an observer of the new you likely have continued to see that the tourism numbers this year in Colorado are up (about 7% as of the last report I’ve seen).  The reason most commonly cited is of course marijuana.  Now travel is up around the country at about a 3-4% rate this year so about half of the increase may just be a general economic improvement in travel but still it’s clear that many have taken to Colorado to sample the goods.  But here’s the thing.  Colorado has collected $21.5 fewer tax dollars thus far in 2014 than anticipated.  So given that they do seem to be attracting a sizeable amount of traffic to the state for marijuana consumption what gives? 


The Marijuana Policy Group investigated an discovered a potentially huge issue for the state…  It happens to be something I highlighted at the beginning of the year…  The black market is still a huge factor. 


The state tax on the “legal” marijuana is 27%.  That has made the black market a far cheaper alternative for marijuana vs. the licensed stores selling it.  The research discovered that 40% of all marijuana purchased in Colorado is still being taking place in the black market.  Worse still… the trend is that increasingly more are seeking it out on the black market.  Aside from being able to obtain a cheaper price for the product on the black market people are avoiding the often long lines at many businesses that cater to the tourists.  More still the biggest risk associated with buying black market drugs has been removed.  Once you have the product you know that law enforcement won’t come after you, so in essence the only real legal risk remain with the seller of the product rather than the end user.  So now the question will be what Colorado’s next move is now that they see it isn’t working out quite as planned. 


Audio Report: