What is a credit score?

A credit score is developed by three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Fair Isaac, and Trans Union, and is a method of determining the likelihood that credit users will pay their bills in a timely manner. The purpose of a credit score is to show a borrower's history of credit payments by a single number. The information is transformed into a credit score by particular mathematical tables and models.

By using the compiled pieces of information, points are assigned to describe the best prediction of future credit performance. Computing a credit score involves the study of how thousands, even millions, of people have used credit.

Credit scores reflect a borrower's credit history:

bullet Late payments
bullet The amount of time credit has been established
bullet The amount of credit used versus the amount of credit available
bullet Length of time at present residence
bullet Employment history
bullet Negative credit information such as bankruptcies, charge-offs, collections, etc.

All of these factors will effect your credit score.

The best way to develop and maintain a good credit score is:

bullet Pay your bills on time. Late payments and collections can have a serious impact on your score.
bullet Do not apply for credit frequently. Having a large number of inquiries on your credit report can worsen your score.
bullet Reduce your credit-card balances. If you are "maxed" out on your credit cards, this will affect your credit score negatively.
bullet If you have limited credit, obtain additional credit. Not having sufficient credit can negatively impact your score.

If you see an error on your report, report it to the credit bureau. The three major bureaus in the U.S., Equifax (1-800-685-1111), Trans Union (1-800-916-8800) and Experian (1-888-397-3742) all have procedures for correcting information promptly. Alternatively, your mortgage company may help you correct this problem as well.

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