Your credit report can affect more areas of your life than just your ability to get a loan or credit card. Businesses can use the information contained in your credit report to evaluate your application for credit, insurance, and employment. Credit reports can contain information on your employment, your residence, and your bill payment habits. Also, they may show whether you have had a civil judgment filed or may have filed for bankruptcy. You can also find your credit score within your credit report. A credit score is a number that reflects all of the information found in a credit report. Consumers who have higher credit scores generally will get more favorable credit terms, while not having a credit score can affect whether you can get a loan and how much you will have to pay for that loan. Your credit score can change depending on how your credit history changes. Maintaining a good credit history and credit score is important and requires just a little bit of work.
The first step to maintaining a good credit history is to review your credit report regularly for inaccuracies or omissions. Consumers are able to obtain an annual free credit report online by accessing annualcreditreport.comLink opens in a new window. You can order one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies per year. You can order your free reports at the same time, or stagger your requests over the course of the year. If you find any mistakes on your credit report, you can dispute any inaccurate information by contacting the consumer reporting agency. To obtain your reports for free, you must use the annualcreditreport.comLink opens in a new window link or you may be assessed a fee.
To order additional reports throughout the year, you can order them by clicking on one of the credit reporting agencies’ links listed below. Credit scores or credit monitoring services are also available. Applicable charges will apply by ordering through one of the links listed below. For more information on credit reports, contact the Consumer Financial Protection BureauLink opens in a new window at (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
A credit report is a snapshot of how you have paid back the companies from whom you have borrowed money, or how you have met other financial obligations. Each time you borrow, payment patterns are tracked and reported to a credit bureau. Creditors use this and other information to determine your creditworthiness.
Your credit score is another tool used by creditors. When you apply for credit, a three-digit score predicts how likely you are to repay the debt. Past performance, current debt load, how long you have had credit, what type of credit you have and how many recent accounts you have opened also factor into the score.
It is very easy to get a copy of your credit score. There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
Credit reports include information from credit grantors and public records; including bankruptcies, judgments and liens. Active positive information may remain on your report indefinitely, while missed payments and most public records will remain for seven years. The exception is bankruptcies which remain for ten years, unpaid tax liens, which remain on your credit report for fifteen years, and student loans which can remain as long as 25 years.
In states with community property laws, any debt incurred during marriage is automatically considered joint. Your divorce decree doesn't relieve you from joint debt. Even when a divorce judge orders your ex-spouse to pay a certain bill, you are still legally responsible for the payments. You may be reported to a credit reporting agency and contacted by the creditor for payment.
Filing for bankruptcy is not necessarily the easy way out. There is no guarantee that it will be granted; a court judgment must be made. Even if you only file the papers and don't go through with it, the bankruptcy shows up on your credit report. Also, not all debts can be included in a bankruptcy. Alimony, child support, student loans and tax liens all must still be paid. The bankruptcy will remove some unsecured debts, but the filing, dismissal or discharge remains on your credit report for 10 years. Obtaining new credit during this time may be difficult.
Although a low rate is always better than a high rate, there are some basics to remember if you decide to do the "credit card shuffle." First, discipline yourself to close the initial card once the transfer of balance is complete. Many consumers fail to do this and find themselves a few months later with two large balances because they started using the "paid off" card again. Next, there is often a balance transfer fee imposed for each transfer so you must consider it in relation to the savings gained by the lower rate. These fees can sometimes be very large. Also, each time you request a new account, your credit profile is reviewed. Having too many inquiries for new credit in a relatively short time span can affect your credit score.
More than two major credit cards are considered unnecessary. Carrying a lot of plastic in your wallet can be dangerous for various reasons. Open accounts with no balances are still factored into your credit score because they represent amounts that could be balances owed tomorrow. You are also a target for identity theft. If someone obtains your credit card information, they may decide to start using your available credit. One major credit card with a low APR, left at home in a safe place for emergencies is ideal.
There are pros and cons to including credit card debt in a mortgage refinance. The big pro is that the interest that accrues will be a part of the mortgage interest, therefore tax deductible, while interest on credit cards is not. Another pro is that interest rates on mortgages are typically lower than credit card rates. You need to compare the savings before you decide to include them. The biggest con is when you do not close credit cards that were included in the loan and then run them back up. Now you are facing double payments and you will be using more of your home's equity to include credit cards.
Yes, you may visit GreenPath Debt Solutions, the website of our free and confidential financial management program partner.
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