Credit Scores De-Mystified!

Happy Tuesday Morning to YOU!

Credit.  It's one of those things that I'd really rather not think about....and yet it does come up from time to time and can be a bit of a mystery! Credit is one of the 4 factors that lenders care about a great deal! One of our local lenders, Wendy Paulus, recently sent out a "Credit FAQ" that I found interesting...hope you like it, too!

How accurate is the credit report?

It is estimated that 80% of credit reports have inaccurate information.  Some of the inaccuracies are critical failures and some are simply recording errors.  It is always wise to check your personal reports annually with the 3 main repositories – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion

Will you pulling my credit report lower my score?

When you pull your own credit, it is called a soft pull and there is no impact on your scores. Also your personal scores are not the same as the ones that lenders see.  When I, as a lender, pull your scores, it will have no impact on your score initially.  If you allow multiple lenders to pull your credit, the drop in score could be painful.  (as long as they are all done within 45 days, the systems sees them as 1 pull and you are ‘shopping’, not many pulls)

Does my income have any influence on my credit score?

Income is totally irrelevant to the scoring models.  The algorithms used only care about derogatory data; it is assumed you will pay on time and does not know where that money comes from.

Why are my scores different for the 3 repositories?

Each of the bureaus use somewhat different scoring techniques (usually based on the Fair Isaac model) but the biggest difference is caused by the vendors who report data.  If a vendor only reports to one of the bureaus, or 2, rather than all 3, then those bureaus will have different data to work with.  Frequently small banks will only report to 1 bureau.   All of the large banks report installments and revolving (credit cards) data to all 3 bureaus.   In order to get that, I usually suggest obtaining loans and cards from the larger institutions when you are trying to establish credit. 

Is using a debt settlement company a good idea?

These companies CAN help you to settle obligations, often for less than due, for a fee.  What they cannot do is effect any changes to the report like getting derogatory data, like late payments, collections, judgments etc., removed from the report.  Derogatory data remains for 7-10 years, depending on type, at which time it will disappear from the report.  The impact to the score will dissipate over time.

I pay cash for everything which improves my score right?

Wrong.  Unless you use credit, you can’t build credit.  And without credit, it is extremely difficult to buy things, particularly a home.

Should I close some/all of my credit cards?

Please don’t do that.  Your credit cards account for about 35% of the scoring model calculation.   If you close one or all, you remove good historical data from the algorithm and your score will go down in most instances.   Keep major credit cards open and use wisely.   You don’t have to let them roll over (making only a minimum payment) from one month to another to get the good effects on your credit score.   Charge things and pay the card in full each month to avoid interest.  But do use them occasionally.  I tell clients to charge a tank of gas a month and pay it off.  Put it in your drawer in between if you have temptation issues.

Does smart management of my bank accounts impact my score?

No. Banking information is not part of a credit score or report.

If I dispute negative information on my report, will it be removed?

If the negative information is inaccurate, yes it could be removed.  For instance, you paid your car loan on time but the vendor shows you as late.  You can provide your bank info showing the posting of your payment in a timely manner to the bureaus  and the bureaus will contact the vendor for a correction. If you contact a bureau asking for a review or correction, they are required to reach out to the vendor and respond to you within 30 days.  If you think you can just post ‘In Dispute’ on a credit report to counteract a derogatory, that won’t have any affect on the scoring.

I don’t have a credit score.  How do I get one?

There are still people who believe in using cash and not taking out loans or credit cards.  Unfortunately lenders are hesitant to lend to people without any systematic ‘track record’.  I suggest to noncredit users that they should obtain 2-3 tradelines and usually the easiest route is credit cards.  They don’t need to be high limit cards; even $500 works.   The scoring models don’t care about the dollar amount, just the timely payment and keeping the amount used at 35% or less of the high limit.  (the higher the percentage of use of the high limit, the more negative impact on the score).  Most lenders really want to see 3-4 open/active tradelines on a credit report with history for 12 months.

Can I get negative data taken off of my report?

Sometimes you can.  Let’s say you were late 1 time on your credit card, legitimately so.  Many vendors will allow you a 1-time courtesy removal.  Ask!  Worst they can say is no.  Ask on a Friday afternoon when people are upbeat and looking forward to their weekend.  Don’t call Monday morning! 

More questions? Wendy can be reached at:

Wendy Paulus, Branch Manager
970-668-1188 Dillon
303-233-5626 Denver

I wish for you a day filled with blue skies, green lights and a perfect credit score! 

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