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What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a sum used by lenders as an indicator of how likely you are to repay your loans. Your credit score is generated by a mathematical formula utilizing the data from your TransUnion, Equifax or Experian credit reports. Lenders have been using credit scores as part of the lending decision for over than 20 years.

What factors influence my credit score?

Various factors determine your credit score, including the following:

  • Payment History
  • Outstanding debt
  • Length of credit history
  • Severity and frequency of derogatory credit information such as bankruptcies, charge-offs, and collections
  • The amount of credit used compared to the credit available

How does my credit score affect me?

Your credit score is an important indicator of your financial health. Lenders use your credit score to determine:

  • Whether or not you are a good candidate for a loan
  • What type of interest rate you will pay

While your credit score is a key determinant of your creditworthiness, lenders also examine the information on your credit report and your loan application. Regularly checking your credit report enables you to:

  • Be informed of the most up-to-date information in your credit history.
  • Correct any inaccuracies, to make sure that your credit data is a true depiction of your credit record and increasing your chances of receiving credit under the best possible terms

What is a "good" credit score?

There are several types of credit scores available. Typically, the higher the score, the better. Each lender decides what credit score range it considers to be a good credit risk or a poor credit risk. For this reason, the lender is the best source to explain what your credit score means in relation to the final credit decision. After all, they determine the criteria used to extend credit. The credit score is only one component of information evaluated by lenders.

What is credit scoring?

Credit scoring is a method used by lenders to help decide whether or not you are a good candidate for a loan.   Lenders employ a credit scoring system to determine your credit score which:

  • Compares information in your credit report to the performance of consumers who have similar credit characteristics
  • Examines many credit characteristics including your payment history, the number and kind of accounts you have, the number and frequency of late payments, and any collections or bankruptcies

Generally speaking, positive credit characteristics make your score higher and help you to qualify for better loans. Negative characteristics make your score lower and may interfere with your ability to qualify for the best loan terms.

How is a credit scoring model developed?

A lender creates a credit scoring model by using several criteria:

  • Selecting a large sampling of customers
  • Analyzing the data in their credit reports to determine which factors relate to creditworthiness
  • Assigning a degree of importance to each of the factors, based on how accurate a predictor it is in determining who will repay their loan on time

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Quote of the Day
"A good reputation is more valuable than money." - Syrus (Publilius Syrus)
Tip of the Day
If you receive pre-screened credit card offers in the mail, but don't shred them after you decide you don't want to accept the offer, identity thieves could retrieve the offers for their own use without your knowledge. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) to opt out of receiving these pre-screened credit card offers. The three major credit bureaus use the same toll-free number to let consumers choose to not receive pre-screened credit offers.
Today's Story
"My purse was stolen in December 1990. In February 1991, I started getting notices of bounced checks. About a year later, I received information that someone using my identity had defaulted on a number of lease agreements and bought a car. In 1997, I learned that someone had been working under my Social Security number for a number of years. A man had been arrested and used my SSN on his arrest sheet. There's a hit in the FBI computers for my SSN with a different name and gender. I can't get credit because of this situation. I was denied a mortgage loan, employment, credit cards, and medical care for my children. I've even had auto insurance denied, medical insurance and tuition assistance denied." - From a consumer complaint to the FTC, January 2, 2001
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