What's my credit score? Alexa can help

Customers need to enable Alexa's Experian skill

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Want to know your credit score? Just ask Alexa.

The credit reporting agency Experian announced on Monday that users can now ask Amazon's voice-activated assistant to answer credit-related questions. With the new Experian skill, Alexa can tell users about their credit score and utilization, offer advice and -- for those who have access to Experian's credit lock product -- check whether their credit is locked, or lock it.

To take advantage of the new product, customers first need to enable Alexa's Experian skill. Then, they have to enter their Experian username and password, plus a personal key created when users enter their information in order to link up their account. Users will have to repeat their pin after five minutes of inactivity.

The new service might ring some alarm bells in light of the Equifax security breach, which exposed the personal information of up to 145.5 million people.

But Jeremy Wasser, Experian's Chief Product Architect, noted that "security is a priority for Experian."

"Creating the personal key adds an additional layer of security for voice services similar to other financial skills in the Alexa ecosystem," said Wasser. "Data between Experian and Alexa are protected via strong encryption methods that meet or exceed multiple industry and federal standards and guidelines."

"We also remind users that the information may be private and one may want to limit those within earshot when using the skill," he added.

An Amazon spokesperson explained that "when customers choose to use a skill that requires account linking, like the Experian skill, account credentials and information stay with the skill developer and are linked to an Alexa user using an access token."

John Shier, a senior security expert at Sophos, said that he is not aware of any Alexa vulnerabilities, but that accessing sensitive information through a new device potentially increases risk of a hack.

"All software contains vulnerabilities," he said. "Introducing yet another device can introduce new vulnerabilities into your environment."

The move is designed to appeal to Millennials, Experian explained in a statement.

"Having Experian data available for members via Alexa makes credit information accessible and approachable to America's largest generation," Experian said, adding that it found that 61% of Millennials check their credit report less than four times a year.

Guy Abramo, president of consumer business at Experian, added that the new feature could help make checking credit a part of people's daily routine. "Consumers use Alexa daily to check the weather, manage bank accounts, play music and more," he said.

"It's natural to incorporate another important element -- credit services -- into what has become a popular, personal assistant device."


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