September 5, 2009
There is a lot of information about credit scores and FICO score out there are wading through it as a consumer is not easy. What is accurate? What are the best decisions to improve or protect your credit score? To help, here a list of ten most common credit score myths you will find and some insight into each.
#1: You Can Remove Less Favorable Accounts to Boost Your Credit Score
This is based on the idea that the credit score formula takes into account all a consumer’s accounts and their payment history for the last seven years. The myth states if the account is closed it doesn’t exist any more and therefore will not be on your credit report. This is far from the truth. If you do close an account it just doesn’t disappear it stays on your credit report for a long time along with it’s payment history. This means if you paid this closed account late last month, this late payment will be on your credit report for the next 7 years and will be included in your credit score.
#2: If You Get More Credit You Will Improve Your Credit Score
Actually, Fair Isaac, the creators of the FICO score, state that it will not improve your credit score. There are several other pieces to your credit score that will be affected by getting new credit. First is the average account age. Having a new account will drop your average account age which is another major part of your score. Second is the act of applying for new credit will be seen as a hard inquiry which the credit score formula also counts. So depending on your credit situation this might even hurt your score so be wary before doing so. If you don’t need credit don’t apply for it. More than likely there is a reason why a consumer is carrying a large amount of debt and having more available only increases their risk to have more. It would be better to figure out a method to pay down the existing debt to improve your debt to credit ratio.
#3 Shopping for Credit Will Hurt Your Score
The myth is based of the idea that every time a consumer applies for credit it will count as a hard inquiry and go against their score. This credit myth is both true and false. It really depends on the type of credit the consumer is shopping for. An example of this is consumers are allowed to shop of loans that are large purchase such as a mortgage or auto loan. These are large purchases that consumers need the availability to shop so they get the best deals. Credit Cards are different. Consumers should not shop for credit cards. The terms and conditions are stated up front and there is no negotiation. Therefore, every time a consumer applies for a credit card it will be considered a hard inquiry and this should be avoided.
#4 If You Are Well-Off You Have a Good Credit Score
It is commonly believed if you have a lot of money you have a good credit score. Well, this actually might not be the case. Many individuals that seem to have money have a lot of debt. The persona of having expensive cars can houses is held up by huge amounts of debt that will eventually kill a credit score. Many of individuals like this live beyond their means. It always baffles people when they hear a celebrity or a sport figure go bankrupt but it will happen if there is terrible management of cash flow and debt.
#5 Adding 100 Word Statements to Your Credit Report Will Help
A 100 word statement is side of the story when it comes to an item on your credit report. While it will provide your side of the story when it comes to that late payment of your phone bill, it will not be included in the credit score calculation. There is no way for it to be considered. So if you are thinking about adding a 100 word statement just keep that in mind.
#6 Use Another Person’s Accounts to Improve Your Credit Score
The practice is to do what as known as piggybacking. This is when you find a person willing to add a consumer to their account so they get the benefit of their great payment history. There are many firms out there that are even selling this solution to improve your score, but new changes to the credit score formula could put an end to this practice. The new FICO score formula fives no boost in scores for this practice and it is seen as deceptive.
7# Your Credit Score is Free
This one is one of the largest myths you will here. There are site dedicated to offering a so called “free credit score”. It should be known by law consumers are entitled to one free credit report once per year from each credit bureau. This law does not state a free credit report. The ads you hear for a free credit score comes with strings. It usually includes, the consumer signing up for a credit monitoring program. It is free for the first month and then a monthly charge there after. These are not a bad thing and there are many benefits to a credit monitoring program but that really wasn’t what the consumer was shopping for. The free credit score is the lure. So if you sign up for one of these deals you must cancel within the stated grace period of you will be charged. There is no better example of this than the post on Free Credit Report.com Versus Annual Credit Report.com
#8 Close Old Unused Accounts
This credit score myth is based on the fact by having a lot of available credit you represent a higher risk to lenders and will have a lower credit score or something like that. What might happen if you do close these account you will kill your account history. Mainly this could be two different things: maybe closing the oldest account you have and dropping your average account age. These are two detrimental actions to your credit score and need to be avoided. It should be said that closing an account is not always a negative thing for instance if you are a consumer who is having trouble controlling spending. Not having this available line of credit might save you from yourself, but this might also be achieved by just shredding the credit score. It is your choice.