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.
As of last month, active duty service members and their spouses can receive their FICO scores for free. In addition, they can access education information and tools in the FICO standard service 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, Inc., better known as NASD).
What is FINRA?
FINRA is not a small outfit, but rather a huge, far-reaching independent regulator of all securities firms doing business in the US. They employ approximately 3,000 people in offices in New York, Washington D.C., and twenty other regional offices. They oversee over 630,000 registered securities representatives and 4,500 brokerage firms.
FINRA performs a wide range of tasks including examining securities firms, writing and enforcing securities rules and laws, and providing a dispute resolute forum for investors and firms. Their power is revealed when you learn that they are also under contract to regulate the major US stock markets including the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, and the International Securities Exchange.
Investor Education for Military
FINRA clearly plays an important role in the financial regulatory role. But they also dedicate a huge amount of resources to investor education through their Investor Education Foundation. This foundation began in 2003 and FINRA has set aside about $50 million for investor education and protection initiatives. Included in the foundation’s effort is its offer to provide free FICO scores and FICO education tools to the military community.
FINRA is currently working with the Department of Defense’s network of military advisers and counselors to roll out this education effort. Besides receiving simply the FICO score, the most important score used to assess credit risk, military service members and spouses gain access to the FICO Standard service. This allows service members to use a FICO score simulator which analyzes how certain decisions—paying off a credit card or opening a new bank account, for example—will affect your credit score.
In addition to offering free FICO Scores and education tools, the FINRA Foundation 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 for financial resources, they can visit the 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 cell phones. 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.
Photo Credit: expertinfantry
Published or updated February 16, 2013.