This is part one of a two part guest post from Debt Lead, who has a debt consolidation website by Kimberly Credit Counseling.
Newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet are filled with advertisements that offer to erase accurate negative information in your credit file. The credit repair scam artists who run these ads can’t deliver. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a plan to repay your bills will improve your credit history record. Part 1 is to help you understand credit reports so you can be an informed consumer, while part 2 looks at credit repair scams.
Does your credit report accurately represent you? A recent study conducted by the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) found over 70% of credit reports contain errors. Among the principal findings of the report were the following:
- Twenty-nine percent (29%) of the credit reports contained serious errors that could result in the denial of credit.”
- “Serious” errors included false delinquencies, public records or judgments that belonged to a stranger, or credit accounts that did not belong to the consumer
- Seventy percent (70%) of the credit reports contained mistakes or errors of some kind, also including the following:
- Forty-one percent (41%) of the credit reports contained incorrect personal demographic identifying information
- Twenty percent (20%) of the credit reports were missing major credit cards, loans, mortgages, or other accounts that are critical to demonstrating consumer credit worthiness.
One of the first steps to credit repair is to understand credit reports. When applying for mortgages, home loans and refinances, one of the most important factors in determining whether or not you will be approved is your credit. This is true for other important factors as well, such as obtaining lower interest rate auto loans and credit cards so it is extremely important to have good credit.
If you have had credit issues in the past, or are currently in a situation that will affect your credit, be prepared to address these issues upfront when applying for a loan.
The mortgage industry has its own language when it comes to your credit report. Mortgage lenders get their name from the grading system they use. Items that determine your credit rating (A+ to D-) are payment history, amount of debt payments, bankruptcies, equity positions, and credit scores. Credit scores are also known as “FICO” scores, and are used by the mortgage industry to determine credit risk. The higher the credit score, the better the credit risks.
FICO stands for Fair Isaac Company, the company that created the original scoring system. Each credit bureau has its own unique system that allows them to offer a score based solely on the contents of the credit bureau’s data about an individual. A numerical score at one bureau is the equivalent of the same numerical score of another. For example, a score of 700 from Experian indicates the same creditworthiness as a score of 700 from Trans Union or Equifax. However, the calculations used to determine these scores are different for each bureau.
FICO scores range from 375 to 900 points. A score of 650 or above indicates a very good credit history. However, lenders do not necessarily give the same value to a particular credit score, and they do not necessarily use credit scoring.
FICO scoring places a value on the types of accounts you hold, as well as your credit history. The formula that determines your scores, however, is not disclosed to the consumer.
The 5 most important factors to determining your credit score are:
- Your payment history
- The amount of outstanding debt you have compared to your credit limit
- Your credit history
- The types of credit you use
- Negative information
Remember, FICO scores range from 375 to 900 points. A score of 650 or above indicates a very good credit history.