Military members can check credit scores for free

Financial advocacy groups continue to warn military members about predatory lending practices, which can get them into deep financial trouble. Now, one group is going even further to assist servicemembers from ending up with bad credit.

The non-profit organization, FINRA Investor Education Foundation, is allowing active-duty personnel and their spouses to obtain a free copy of their FICO credit scores. Although all consumers are eligible to receive a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies, they have to pay if they want to look at their scores.

The foundation says the benefit will enable active-duty troops to stay on top of their finances and avoid harmful lenders.

Servicemembers who discover their scores have fallen should check their credit reports immediately. The score drop may result from an unfair item being reported to the credit bureaus by creditors and other information furnishers.

A number of troops serve overseas, making it difficult for them to investigate and dispute a questionable item. These individuals may benefit from contacting a credit repair company, which may be able to work with the credit bureaus on the servicemember's behalf to straighten out an unfair mark. By obtaining credit repair, military members may be in a better financial position when they return from service.