About credit reports. Credit Reporting Agencies. Creating Your Credit Report

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1 About credit reports Credit Reporting Agencies Credit reporting agencies maintain files on millions of borrowers. Lenders making credit decisions buy credit reports on their prospects, applicants and customers from the credit reporting agencies. Your report details your credit history as it has been reported to the credit reporting agency by lenders who have extended credit to you. Your credit report lists what types of credit you use, the length of time your accounts have been open, and whether you've paid your bills on time. It tells lenders how much credit you've used and whether you're seeking new sources of credit. It gives lenders a broader view of your credit history than do other data sources, such as a bank's own customer data. Creating Your Credit Report Your credit report does not really exist until you or a lender asks for it. It is then compiled by the credit reporting agency based on the information stored in that agency's file. This information is supplied by lenders, by you and by court records. Tens of thousands of credit grantors retailers, credit card issuers, banks, finance companies, credit unions, etc. send updates to each of the credit reporting agencies, usually once a month. These updates include information about how their customers use and pay their accounts. Your credit report reveals many aspects of your borrowing activities. All pieces of information should be considered in relationship to other pieces of information. The ability to quickly, fairly and consistently consider all this information is what makes credit scoring so useful.

2 What s in your FICO score FICO Scores are calculated from a lot of different credit data in your credit report. This data can be grouped into five categories as outlined below. The percentages in the chart reflect how important each of the categories is in determining your FICO score. 35% 30% 15% 10% 10% These percentages are based on the importance of the five categories for the general population. For particular groups - for example, people who have not been using credit long - the importance of these categories may be somewhat different. Payment History Account payment information on specific types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, mortgage, etc.) Presence of adverse public records (bankruptcy, judgements, suits, liens, wage attachments, etc.), collection items, and/or delinquency (past due items) Severity of delinquency (how long past due) Amount past due on delinquent accounts or collection items Time since (recency of) past due items (delinquency), adverse public records (if any), or collection items (if any) Number of past due items on file Number of accounts paid as agreed Amounts Owed Amount owing on accounts Amount owing on specific types of accounts Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases Number of accounts with balances Proportion of credit lines used (proportion of balances to total credit limits on certain types of revolving accounts) Proportion of installment loan amounts still owing (proportion of balance to original loan amount on certain types of installment loans)

3 Length of Credit History Time since accounts opened Time since accounts opened, by specific type of account Time since account activity New Credit Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account Number of recent credit inquiries Time since recent account opening(s), by type of account Time since credit inquiry(s) Re-establishment of positive credit history following past payment problems Types of Credit Used Number of (presence, prevalence, and recent information on) various types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage, consumer finance accounts, etc.) Please note that: A FICO score takes into consideration all these categories of information, not just one or two. No one piece of information or factor alone will determine your score. The importance of any factor depends on the overall information in your credit report. For some people, a given factor may be more important than for someone else with a different credit history. In addition, as the information in your credit report changes, so does the importance of any factor in determining your FICO score. Thus, it's impossible to say exactly how important any single factor is in determining your score - even the levels of importance shown here are for the general population, and will be different for different credit profiles. What's important is the mix of information, which varies from person to person, and for any one person over time. Your FICO score only looks at information in your credit report. However, lenders look at many things when making a credit decision including your income, how long you have worked at your present job and the kind of credit you are requesting. Your score considers both positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments will lower your score, but establishing or re-establishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your FICO credit score.

4 What's Not in Your FICO Score FICO scores consider a wide range of information on your credit report. However, they do not consider: Your race, color, religion, national origin, sex and marital status. US law prohibits credit scoring from considering these facts, as well as any receipt of public assistance, or the exercise of any consumer right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Your age. Other types of scores may consider your age, but FICO scores don't. Your salary, occupation, title, employer, date employed or employment history. Lenders may consider this information, however, as may other types of scores. Where you live. Any interest rate being charged on a particular credit card or other account. Any items reported as child/family support obligations or rental agreements. Certain types of inquiries (requests for your credit report). The score does not count consumer-initiated inquiries requests you have made for your credit report, in order to check it. It also does not count promotional inquiries requests made by lenders in order to make you a pre-approved credit offer or administrative inquiries requests made by lenders to review your account with them. Requests that are marked as coming from employers are not counted either. Any information not found in your credit report. Any information that is not proven to be predictive of future credit performance. Whether or not you are participating in a credit counseling of any kind.

5 Will closing a credit card account help my FICO score? The short answer is no. We never recommend closing a credit card for the sole purpose of raising your FICO score. This may sound a bit counter-intuitive; after all, cleaning up your credit profile by getting rid of old or unused credit cards sounds like a good idea and it may be from an overall credit management perspective. If you are tempted to charge more than you should just because you have more availability to credit, then getting rid of that temptation by closing some credit cards might be your best course of action. However, your FICO score takes into consideration something called a "credit utilization ratio". This ratio basically looks at your total used credit in relation to your total available credit; the higher this ratio is, the more it can negatively affect your FICO score. So, by closing an old or unused card, you are essentially wiping away some of your available credit and there by increasing your credit utilization ratio. It's a bit tricky, so here's an example: Say you have 3 credit cards. Credit card 1 has a $500 balance and a $2000 credit limit. Credit card 2 is an unused card with a zero balance and a $3000 limit. Credit card 3 has a $1,500 balance and a $1,500 limit. In this scenario your credit utilization ratio looks like this: Total balances = $2,000 ($500 + $1,500) Total available credit = $6,500 ($2,000 + $3,000 + $1,500) Credit utilization ratio = 30% (2,000 divided by 6,500) Now, if you decide to close credit card 2 because it's an old card that you never use, your credit utilization ratio looks like this: Total balances = $2,000 ($500 + $1,500) Total available credit = $3,500 ($2,000 + $1,500) Credit utilization ratio = 57% (2,000 divided by 3,500) You can see that your utilization ratio rose from 30% to 57% by closing the unused credit card.

6 How to Repair Your Credit and Improve Your FICO Credit Score It's important to note that repairing bad credit is a bit like losing weight: It takes time and there is no quick way to fix a credit score. In fact, out of all of the ways to improve a credit score, quick-fix efforts are the most likely to backfire, so beware of any advice that claims to improve your credit score fast. The best advice for rebuilding credit is to manage it responsibly over time. If you haven't done that, then you need to repair your credit history before you see credit score improvement. The tips below will help you do that. They are divided up into categories based on the data used to calculate your credit score. 3 Important Things You Can Do Right Now 1. Check Your Credit Report Credit score repair begins with your credit report. If you haven't already, request a free copy of your credit report and check it for errors. Your credit report contains the data used to calculate your score and it may contain errors. In particular, check to make sure that there are no late payments incorrectly listed for any of your accounts and that the amounts owed for each of your open accounts is correct. If you find errors on any of your reports, dispute them with the credit bureau and reporting agency. Read more about Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report 2. Setup Payment Reminders Making your credit payments on time is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit score. Some banks offer payment reminders through their online banking portals that can send you an or text message reminding you when a payment is due. You could also consider enrolling in automatic payments through your credit card and loan providers to have payments automatically debited from your bank account, but this only makes the minimum payment on your credit cards and does not help instill a sense of money management. 3. Reduce the Amount of Debt You Owe This is easier said than done, but reducing the amount that you owe is going to be a far more satisfying achievement than improving your credit score. The first thing you need to do is stop using your credit cards. Use your credit report to make a list of all of your accounts and then go online or check recent statements to determine how much you owe on each account and what interest rate they are charging you. Come up with a payment plan that puts most of your available budget for debt payments towards the highest interest cards first, while maintaining minimum payments on your other accounts.

7 More Tips on How to Fix a Credit Score & Maintain Good Credit Payment History Tips Contributing 35% to your score calculation, this category has the greatest effect on improving your score, but past problems like missed or late payments are not easily fixed. Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a major negative impact on your FICO score. If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time after being late, the more your FICO score should increase. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won't haunt you forever. The impact of past credit problems on your FICO score fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report. And good FICO scores weigh any credit problems against the positive information that says you're managing your credit well. Be aware that paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report. It will stay on your report for seven years. If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor. This won't rebuild your credit score immediately, but if you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score should increase over time. And seeking assistance from a credit counseling service will not hurt your FICO score. Amounts Owed Tips This category contributes 30% to your score's calculation and can be easier to clean up than payment history, but that requires financial discipline and understanding the tips below. Keep balances low on credit cards and other "revolving credit". High outstanding debt can affect a credit score. Pay off debt rather than moving it around. The most effective way to improve your credit score in this area is by paying down your revolving (credit cards) debt. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your score. Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. Don't open a number of new credit cards that you don't need, just to increase your available credit. This approach could backfire and actually lower your credit score.

8 Length of Credit History Tips If you have been managing credit for a short time, don't open a lot of new accounts too rapidly. New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your score if you don't have a lot of other credit information. Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you are a new credit user. New Credit Tips Do your rate shopping for a given loan within a focused period of time. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur. Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems. Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time will raise your credit score in the long term. Note that it's OK to request and check your own credit report. This won't affect your score, as long as you order your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency or through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers. Types of Credit Use Tips Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don't open accounts just to have a better credit mix it probably won't raise your credit score. Have credit cards but manage them responsibly. In general, having credit cards and installment loans (and paying timely payments) will rebuild your credit score. Someone with no credit cards, for example, tends to be higher risk than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly. Note that closing an account doesn't make it go away. A closed account will still show up on your credit report, and may be considered by the score. To summarize, "fixing" a credit score is more about fixing errors in your credit history (if they exist) and then following the guidelines above to maintain consistent, good credit history. Raising your score after a poor mark on your report or building credit for the first time will take patience and discipline.

9 Why Scores Go Down There are various reasons why your FICO score may have gone down: Have you missed any payments? Late payments, collection accounts, settled accounts, repossessions, foreclosures, and public record items (tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies) can have a major negative impact on your FICO score. Even minor late payments, such as 30-day delinquencies, can negatively affect your score. Your payment history makes up the largest part of your FICO score, so the longer you pay your bills on time, the better your FICO score. Are you comparing different scoring formulas? All scores offered by myfico are true FICO scores developed by FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation). Other web sites offer a mix of different scores, many of them non-fico scores developed by other companies. These non-fico scores are typically used only for credit education purposes and are not actually used by lenders to make credit decisions. Over 80% of lenders use FICO scores as part of their lending decision, so make sure you are comparing FICO scores only with other FICO scores. Have you looked at the "Negative Factors" on your myfico report? These factors point out the areas most responsible for your score not being higher, and when compared with earlier reports, can help identify the causes for a drop in your FICO score. Have you closed any credit card accounts, increased any credit card balances, or had any credit limits reduced? Any of these events can result in an increased proportion of credit card balances to available credit, which can lower your FICO score. Have you applied for or opened any new accounts lately? Establishing a new credit account can be an indicator of increased risk and can reduce your FICO score. Reference documents: myfico.com

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