Credit Scores

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Why Check Your Credit Scores?

Before applying for a credit card, personal loan, mortgage or even signing up for wireless service, it's essential to check your credit scores and know where you stand.

Creditors use your credit scores to determine your risk as a borrower. Your credit risk tells potential creditors whether there's a good chance you'll pay off your credit card debt or make on-time payments on a new car loan.

Creditors make many calculations based on your credit scores and information on your credit report. Your financial history is actually public record, and your financial information -- including payment history -- is located and condensed by three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

The data that these three companies accumulate becomes your credit report and it used to calculate your credit scores. It's important to realize that even a single piece of information can change your score and may mean the difference between getting approved for a credit card and getting rejected.

  • 730 - 850: Excellent Credit
  • 700 - 730: Good Credit
  • 650 - 700: Average Credit
  • 600 - 650: Fair Credit
  • Under 600: Bad Credit

A high score indicates you are a great candidate for paying back loans on time, while a low score means you do not have a history of responsibly paying back debts.

Your credit report includes identifying information (including your name, current/former addresses and employer), along with your credit and loan history, inquiries into your credit, collection records and public records, such as a tax lien or bankruptcy filing.

Each piece of your credit and loan history remains on your credit report for 7 years, and it includes details such as the credit limit, the date the account was established and the type of account.

Why You Need to Check Your Scores Regularly

There are several reasons to check your credit scores and report regularly, not just when you've been denied for a loan or other financial product.

  • This keeps you updated on your rating so you know where you stand
  • Guard against signs of identity theft by looking for inaccurate information
  • Helps you identify areas for improvement before you begin loan shopping
  • Allows you to make sure information is reported accurately
  • It's important for rebuilding good credit if you're recovering from past credit issues

Don't put it off; check your credit report from all three major bureaus today to make sure your information is current and accurate.

Look for signs of identity theft or mistakes that may be holding you back from obtaining credit, and take steps to work on areas that need improvement.

After all, your credit report is, in many ways, your financial resume, and it's your responsibility to keep it as clean as possible.