What things lead to a good credit score? Or a bad one?
A Credit Score, or a FICO score, is a number that represents one's creditworthiness. The number is used by financial institutions, landlords, and even employers to make a generalization about the individual. The things that affect your score are shown in the pie chart below. The actual FICO score ranges from 300 to 850, 300 being the lowest. A 300 score will make it very unlikely for you to be able to get any sort of loan or line of credit. If you were able to get one, you would only be able to get interest rates that are so high, that it would make more sense to just save. For more information on what creditors think of your score go to the Credit Scoring Site. Here is a small list of things that having a bad Credit Score can affect.
- Ability to get a loan
- The interest rate on a loan
- Ability to rent an apartment
- Likelihood of getting a job
How can I check my credit?
A credit report is a detailed summary of your financial history. The document contains the information used to determine your Credit Score. Everyone is allowed a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the 3 major credit reporting bureaus, which are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. To get the free report click here. This website will ask you some personal information to verify who you are. Then it will walk you through the application. It is important to use this website because it is the OFFICIAL website affiliated with the credit reporting agencies. Once these reports are obtained it is important to carefully look over them for errors.
What do I do if an error is found on my Credit Report?
If you go through your credit report and there is an error, it is up to you to bring attention to it. Errors may be caused by a mishandling of your information or by someone stealing your identity. To dispute items on a Credit Report, check out this link. From here it is important to identify which of the 3 report bureaus that you have a dispute with.
How can I improve my Credit Score?
- Always pay your bills on time.
- Limit yourself to 1 or 2 major credit cards, if you have to have them.
- Try to be under 30% of your Credit Limit. Stop using your Credit Card or accumulating more debt if you can.
- Do not close old accounts; length of your credit history is 15% of your credit history.
You need to protect yourself and your credit. There are companies that want to prey on your misfortune. These companies will tell you that they can fix your credit fast, for a fee. These companies are scams, they will not fix your credit -- it is up to you. It takes sacrifice, dedication, and hard work to fix a credit score. If you do become a victim of identity theft, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission to report it.