You Credit Score: How's Your FICO?
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Since our world is so automated, you're probably not surprised to hear that your creditworthiness comes down to a single number.
All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
All three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a score. The original FICO score was developed by Fair Isaac and Company.
While Experian still calls its score "FICO", TransUnion calls its score "Beacon" and Equifax uses "Empirica." While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the differences aren't huge; they all use the following to build your score:
- Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for just a short time?
- Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
- Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of giving you a loan?
Each of these factors is assigned a value and a weight. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. Credit scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is always better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.
Not just for qualifying
Did you know? Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.
Improving your score
How can you raise your FICO score? Since the score is entirely based on your lifelong credit history, it's hard to significantly improve the number with quick fixes. You must appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect data on your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.
Know your FICO score
Before you can improve your score, you must get your score and be sure that the credit reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies. They also provide information and tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.
You can get a federally-mandated free credit report every year from all three agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is fast and inexpensive.
Now that you have all the facts, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the right mortgage for you.
Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call at (818) 874-9900.