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CREDIT REPORTS & SCORES

Credit reports
Credit scores
How is my credit score determined?

Credit reports

A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, whether you have been sued or arrested, or have filed bankruptcy. Nationwide credit reporting companies sell information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment or renting a home. Information in your credit report will help determine your credit score. To read more about the credit report, please visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports.

Getting your free credit report

By law, you are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the the three credit reporting companies (TransUnioin, Equifax and Experian). This can be done at:

www.annualcreditreport.com

This is the only website to get your free annual credit report entitled to you by law. Other websites likely have hidden costs so be aware of this important site.

Be sure to space out your requests so that you can get a free report from one of the bureaus every four months over the course of a year. Review the report for any new accounts that you did not authorize opening or any delinquiencies or unpaid balances due. Follow the bureau's instructions if you find fraudulent transactions. There may often be mistakes on your report that can affect your overall credit score, so pulling a free report and correcting errors is a good practice.

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What is a credit score?

A credit score is a numerical prediction on how risky it is to lend money to you. The most common credit score used is by the FICO Company (known as your FICO score). The score is used by lenders to help determine whether a person qualifies for credit cards, loans or services. Most credit scores estimate the risk a company incurs by lending you money-- specifically the likelihood that the person will make payments on time in the next two to three years. Generally, the higher the score, the less risk you represent. Although you can receive free credit reports, the score is typically purchased from any of the three credit reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian). Visit www.annualcreditreport.com and click on "Frequently Asked Questions" for more information.

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How is my credit (FICO) score determined?

Your FICO score considers both positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments will lower your FICO score, but establishing (or re-establishing) a good track record of making on-time payments will raise your score. Consider the following chart from http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/whatsinyourscore.aspx

FICO Score

To learn more about your score and the five categories that comprise it, please visit http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/whatsinyourscore.aspx

Find out tips on how to establish good credit.

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