What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a history of your personal finance and how you have conducted your monetary affairs. It takes into consideration information gathered about your bill payment history, loans, credit cards repayments, the level of your current debt and any other financial information available. It will also highlight and red flag whether you have been sued or filed for bankruptcy.
A good credit score rating is vitally important for any financial future obligations you are considering. Everything from mortgages, store cards, insurance premiums, loans and even job offers will depend heavily on your rating.
It’s critical to check your free credit score every 3-4 months. A low score may inhibit all these facilities being available and a high score could save money on better interest rates and excess costs.
How to obtain your free credit report?
If you are not certain who exactly provides information about you or holds the personal data you can request a free yearly report from the three main agencies; Transunion, Equifax and Experian.
If for any reason your request is denied then contact the Consumer Financial Protection Agency immediately.
Normally there will be a slight discrepancy between the three reports from each bureau as each company’s model is slightly different. If one company is completely out of stride with the other two then they are probably using outdated information. This needs immediate action to resolve the issue urgently.
The information documented in your credit report is used to calculate your credit score. Scores usually range between 300 and 850 (FICO and VANTAGE 3.0 scores to be specific; other credit scoring models may use different ranges).
What affects your credit score?
There are several factors that affect your score directly and there are some things that you can do to improve your rating and get a higher score.
The five major components that make up your score are:
- Payment History,
- Length of History,
- Amounts Owed,
- Credit Type Mix
- Recent new credit.
Few tips to to keep your score always in the high range:
- Always make regular, on time payments
- Never default on your payments
- Pay through automated channels
- If difficulties arise always inform the lender, come to an agreement
- Try not to close accounts
- Do not go too close to the upper limits allowed
- Don’t have too much credit available
- Always make regular reviews of your credit history
Apart from the mandatory free annual report from the three credit reporting agencies there are now more options for the consumer to obtain their financial information and credit scores and it can often be free.
Reports from credit reporting agencies can be misleading and tempt consumers to pay for unwanted information. When you order your credit report online always make sure you’re on the official government approved website.
Free reports can be obtained by phone 1-877-322-8228 or by writing to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281 Atlanta.
Remember: It is in your own interest to regularly check your own financial reports and fix any problems that might be there. Nobody else will do this on your behalf and you may not know how much damage is being caused.