From the Executive Director’s Desk: Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Last week, the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions, released the findings from their 8th annual survey on what consumers know about credit scores. The findings clearly show that those consumers who have recently obtained their credit score know much more about the meaning of credit scores than those who have not obtained their score. The survey also reveals that, over the past four years, the percentage of consumers who have recently obtained at least one credit score has risen from 49% in 2014 to 57% in 2018.
- A large majority of the consumers surveyed correctly identified some of the key factors used to calculate credit scores but do not have a complete understanding of all of the factors that are taken into consideration in the credit scoring process.
- A large majority indicated some, but not all of the actions consumers can take to increase their credit score.
- Over the past four years, even though the percentage of consumers recently obtaining their credit reports (vs. their credit score) in the past year has increased, the percentage who say it’s important to check your credit report has declined.
Know Your Credit Score or Your Report?
So, what’s more important, your credit score or your credit report? Your credit score is determined based on the information in your credit report. You won’t get an accurate credit score if the information in your credit report isn’t accurate. In other words, a credit score is a numerical reflection of your credit report. Consumers should review and know both.
Earlier this month, I submitted an application to lease a home. As part of the process, I had to authorize the potential landlord to pull a copy of my credit report and credit score. Despite what I know about the importance of reviewing my report and score, I hadn’t checked either in quite some time. I ordered a copy of both. While I didn’t expect there to be any problem getting the application approved, I still felt better after actually going through my own report to make sure there weren’t any errors and knowing my score. And, yes, my application was approved.
The Best Ways to Check Your Credit History
The credit reporting and credit scoring systems are complex, but there are resources available to all consumers. Consumers can get a free copy of their credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – by making the request at AnnualCreditReport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228.
You can get your credit score at myFICO.com. FICO also has an online community forum where consumers can ask questions. Some credit card companies and websites such as CreditKarma.com, also provide customers with their credit score.
What’s In A Score, Anyway?
CreditScoreQuiz.org, created and maintained by CFA and VantageScore Solutions provides unbiased information on the credit scoring process and the steps consumers can take to increase their score. To date, more than 200,000 individuals have taken the quiz.
The Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov) also offer information on credit scoring, credit reporting, and your rights as a consumer. These sites also outline the steps consumers can take to correct errors on their credit report and what consumers can do to improve their credit score.
So, I encourage you to pull a copy of your credit report and your credit score. Go through the report to make sure there aren’t any errors which might negatively impact your score. You’ll be glad you did.
Feel free to comment by emailing me at [email protected] and perhaps share your experiences with credit reports and scores.
About The Author
Anna Flores joined CARE as its first Executive Director in 2015 and helped to bring the organization into official 501(c)(3) status. Previously, Anna worked as a VP for American Express and has years of experience working with volunteer-driven organizations throughout the Washington, D.C. area.