It’s seems wherever we turn these days the phrase ‘credit score’ comes bearing down like a vulture looking for prey.
From TV ads to magazines, newspapers and emails we’re constantly being told to check our score on a regular basis. And of course for many services out there it can be big business offering to keep tabs on the slightest movement. It’s almost as if we can’t go to the toilet without checking our credit score first! Some services make the big sell by luring you into the free trial trap, sometimes making it hard to get out before our credit cards are stamped. From Credit Karma to Equifax, the wings are constantly fluttering above us ready to swoop at the first opportunity.
It doesn’t have to be this way of course. Did you know for example As a result of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act), each legal U.S. resident is entitled to a free copy of his or her credit report from each credit reporting agency once every twelve months. The law requires all three agencies to provide reports. But it’s important to remind ourselves of what our free credit score is all about.
Explained simply, a credit score is a numerical expression based on a statistical analysis of a person’s credit files. This represents the creditworthiness of any individual. It all makes up a part of modern life, and like it or not it does affect us in many different ways. A low credit score will seriously affect your ability to get credit both now and in the future – likewise a high score will make life much easier for you.
Banks and credit card companies use credit scores to evaluate the potential risk posed by lending money to consumers. Lenders use credit scores to determine who qualifies for a loan, at what interest rate, and what credit limits. Lenders also use credit scores to determine which customers are likely to bring in the most revenue.
FICO or Fair Isaac Corporation, is the best-known and most widely used credit score system in the United States. It’s calculated statistically, with information from a consumer’s credit files. This provides a snapshot of risk banks and financial institutions use to help make decisions on lending. Applicants with higher FICO scores might be offered better interest rates on mortgages or automobile loans as well as higher credit limit amounts.
‘A FICO score is calculated between 300 and 850. According to recent studies 60 per cent of people fall approximately between 650 and 799. Research also shows opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents a greater risk – especially for people who don’t have a long credit history.’
The main part of your credit report is your credit history. This lists your credit accounts, the date they were opened, the credit limit or loan amount, and whether you have missed any payments. It’s best to get a free credit score whenever you’re thinking of a purchase involving any form of credit.
The three nationwide consumer reporting companies in the U.S. have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.
To order, visit annualcreditreport.com or you can print it from ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. Alternatively you can contact Annual Credit Report Request Service.
‘Remember! The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.’
But some words of warning! Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. Make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job. Protect yourself against identity theft. Why not check out freecreditreport.com or freecreditreport.gov for more information
The three credit reference agencies operating in the UK are Experian, Equifax and Call Credit. Credit reporting agencies are commercial companies which compile information from a number of different sources, including the electoral roll, county court judgements and financial institutions. The UK credit reference agencies will also allow consumers a free credit check usually giving free access for a trial period, after which a monthly or quarterly fee may be charged for continued access. The trick is to make use of the free report!
Hey – as Neil Young would muse: ‘Keep on rockin in the free world’ – make sure you get your free annual credit report!! Free credit scores for everyone!
— Grahame Anderson