Like millions of Americans, I regularly field calls from scammers who threaten me with jail time because I haven't paid my taxes or who tell me the police are coming to my workplace to serve me with papers for a bogus debt. However, earlier this week I got a call from a fraudster who scared me when she said the last four digits of my Social Security number.
My husband and I got into some financial trouble several years ago due to a job loss. We watched our credit card bills grow and our credit scores tank. It was a depressing time in our lives.
So we put away all the credit cards and changed to a cash-only lifestyle. Though it took a few years, my credit score is very close to 800 now. I went from being unable to qualify for credit to purchase a badly-needed new refrigerator, to opening up a mailbox full of credit card offers. I sleep much better now than I did then. Life is definitely much better with a good credit score.
If you've been working to boost your credit score or researching auto loans, you've probably come across the phrases "hard inquiry" and "soft inquiry" in relation to your credit report. What makes one inquiry "hard" and the other "soft," and why is knowing the difference important for your financial health?
750.670. 620. 575. You may not think about them every day, but the three digits that make up your credit score along with your credit report influence your life in many ways. They affect the cost of credit you receive, your ability to rent or buy a home, the insurance rates you pay, and even the jobs you can get. By understanding the reporting and scoring process, you're better equipped to build a stellar credit profile.
Like many newlyweds, Tarah and Ryan of Littleton, MA, dreamed about becoming homeowners someday. Their first step? Getting a handle on their credit scores. A preliminary check in 2014 surprised Tarah; her score was lower than her husband’s.
Last week in a lending training session here at Hanscom FCU, we reviewed the five elements that make up a FICO score, a number between 350 and 850 that indicates to a lender how creditworthy a consumer is and how likely they are to pay off their debts. The higher the number, the more attractive the consumer is from a lending standpoint. I also learned that each element comprising the FICO score is weighted:
1. Know Your Starting Point
Obtain a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus so that you have a clear understanding of what it says about you and your credit history. Hanscom FCU members can request a free credit report, and one of our credit professionals will explain how to read the report.
If you are familiar with the way credit scoring works, you probably know that avoiding being “maxed out” on your credit cards and other revolving accounts generally impacts your score in a positive way. You might also be aware that the FICO score — the most popular model in a credit score review — dedicates 30% of its score calculation to how much of your available credit you are using. The lower percentage of available credit you are using, the better your FICO score will be. It would seem then that logic dictates that a no-limit credit card would be the best possible solution for this part of your FICO score calculation, since you theoretically have an infinite amount of available credit. But this is one place where logic fails.
To begin conquering debt, you’ll need to understand what you owe and what you are paying to maintain your debt. The amount you spend on finance charges might surprise you.
Have you ever requested your credit score from a credit bureau? You need to read this.
Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered Equifax and TransUnion to pay millions in fines and penalties. Both national credit bureaus misstated the usefulness and value of the credit scores they sold to consumers. The credit bureaus gave customers a score meant for educational purposes, while implying it was the score actually reviewed by lenders.
Topics: Credit Score