A credit score is primarily based on credit report information typically sourced from credit bureaus. Credit scores can affect many aspects of your life, your ability to get a credit card, a mortgage and even a job. Credit can be tricky to understand..
How well do you understand what goes into your credit report and credit score? The following true and false statements may give you a better idea what your credit scoring is all about. Test your knowledge of credit reports and scores to see how much you know;
1. As soon as you pay off an overdue account, the late payments are removed from your credit report. False. Paying the balance of an overdue account is always a good idea. However, missed payments will still show up on your report because they are part of your credit history. Delinquencies of 30 to 180 days will stay on your report for seven years from the date of the missed payment. The good news is that older delinquencies gradually become less of a factor in your score.
2. Filing for bankruptcy will erase the blemishes on your credit report and allow you to start from scratch. False. For people in severe financial distress, declaring bankruptcy may be the only option. However, while a bankruptcy can erase your debts, it will not wipe clean your credit report. Bankruptcies will be noted on your credit report for seven to ten years, depending on the type of bankruptcy you file for.
3. You can request a copy of your own report without lowering your credit score. True. Checking your own credit report will not lower your score. In fact, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit file regularly to make sure that it is accurate. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com for a free credit report.
4. You only need to check your credit report with one of the three credit bureaus. False. While Equifax, TransUnion and Experian use similar formulas when calculating your credit score, each collects its data independently. Therefore, each bureau may have slightly different information in your file, and it’s a good idea to check your report with each of them. These scores can vary greatly from bureau to bureau!
5. Your income has no effect on your credit score. True.
6. A good way of raising your credit score is to obtain several credit cards, even if you don’t plan to use them. False. Using a mix of credit accounts — a mortgage, a car loan and a credit card, for example — and making regular payments on all of them will help you establish a solid credit history. However, opening accounts you won’t use does nothing to build up a positive credit rating. It may even backfire as too much available credit can lower your score. You should only apply for credit cards that you genuinely need.
7. Your credit report and your spouse’s are, and remain, separate reports. True.
8. While it is not easy, achieving a perfect credit score of 850 is possible. True (I’ve yet to see an 850 score in 15 years of originating mortgages).
9. Unpaid library fines and traffic tickets can affect your credit score True. Because cities looking for revenue are sending these cases to collection agencies.
What’s the big deal?
No matter which scoring model lenders use, it pays to have a great credit score. Your credit scores effect whether you get credit or not, and how high your interest rate will be. A better score can lower your interest rate.
The difference in the interest rates offered to a person with a score of 580 and a person with a 740 score can be thousands of dollars on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. Paying bills on time and paying credit cards in full monthly are the single most important ways to maintaining a good credit score.
Call me if you need advice on how you can increase your credit scores, if you need mortgage advice or information on the HARP 2 refinance program for underwater borrowers.