Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Credit Scores: What You Need to Know Now
Posted by Andrew Lipsitz
Written by KAREN BLUMENTHAL
Are you keeping score?
Credit scores have been getting a lot of attention lately, as lenders tighten credit standards and contend with new legislation that has, among other things, reined in how credit-card issuers can raise rates.
Meanwhile, several firms, preying on our insecurities, are pushing credit scores and credit-score-tracking services for a monthly fee.
For all the attention they generate, though, credit scores are largely misunderstood. For instance, your precise score matters only when you're in need of new debt, like a home, auto or education loan or a new credit card, which should be a fairly rare occurrence.
You don't have just one score, but many. Your FICO score, the one developed by Fair Isaac Corp. that runs from a low of 300 to a high of 850, will vary depending on which credit bureau is reporting it and the kind of lender that requested it.
So the score that costs you $15.95 at MyFico.com may not be the score your lender sees. Beyond that, the three credit bureaus— Equifax, Experian and TransUnion— sell their own proprietary scores.
Confused about what to believe? Here are some common myths about credit scores:
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