Managing Your Credit Score
There’s a tremendous amount of good (and misunderstood) information being shared as it relates to credit bureaus and credit histories. It’s important that you know and understand the factors that impact your report and your score. I will provide some clarity and information that will help.
The importance of an acceptable credit bureau score is best understood by realizing how it can impact so many areas of importance to you. Employers, banks, insurance providers, credit card companies, renters/lessors, auto lenders and others use this information to make decisions that can affect you.
Know Your Score:
Under the FICO (Fair Issac Corporation) reporting system, scores can range from 300 to 850 (the higher the better). There are three primary credit-reporting companies: Experian (www.experian.com), Trans Union (www.transunion.com) and Equifax (www.equifax.com)
You have at least one free score available to you annually from each of the three primary reporting agencies. Online sites such as Credit Karma and Free Credit Report also offer information to provide your free report or free credit score. You should know what others see when they pull your credit report.
Some general credit score ranges and definitions:
• 800-plus reflects Exceptional creditworthiness
• 740 to 799 represents a Very Good FICO score
• 670 TO 739 represents a Good FICO score
• 580 to 669 indicates a Below FICO score (below average)
• 579 and lower reflects a Poor FICO score and would indicate a poor credit risk
(Generally, higher scores result in positive credit decisions, lower interest rates and other enhancements).
Average credit scores:
According to the publication Governing (a media platform covering politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders), the average credit score of people in the Ozarks falls into the “good.”
Average scores are:
• Oklahoma 676
• Arkansas 677
• Missouri 690
Several issues can affect your credit score. Their relative impact includes:
• Payment history – 35 percent
• Amounts owed on credit and debt – 30 percent
• Length of credit history – 15 percent
• New credit – 10 percent
• Types of credit used – 10 percent
Improving the score:
There are steps you can take to improve your score and creditworthiness. Corrective measures include:
• Eliminate credit cards – pay off and get rid of unnecessary cards (you only need one or two)
• Reduce and pay off balances – lower balances help your score
• Leave old debt on your report – good debt is good for your credit report
• Shop within a 30-day timeframe (for a vehicle or a loan or mortgage). In this case, several inquiries won’t hurt your credit rating or your FICO score.
• Maintain lower credit balances – this keeps your Credit Utilization Ration in check
How long is bad information reported?
• Delinquencies remain in your credit history for seven years
• Most public records remain for seven years
• Some bankruptcies and tax liens remain for ten years
• Inquires remain on your report for two years
If you are denied credit due to your credit score or history, ask which reporting agency was used. Call the agency and request a copy of the report. Many lenders and decision makers will be glad to discuss your report and explain ways to enhance your score over time.
Under The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA), you have the right to:
• Free Credit Reports
• The Right to Dispute Credit Report-Related Decisions
• The Right to Limit Credit Report Access and
• The Right to Opt-Out of Prescreened Offers
Finally, your good common sense and general credit knowledge can go a long way toward maintaining or improving your credit score.