There was a good article this weekend in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Looking Past a Credit Score.”
In this article, AnnaMaria Andriotis, the writer, referenced the push that credit card companies are making towards more easily accessible credit scores.
Last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau called on credit card companies to provide consumers with their scores in hopes of encouraging borrowers to improve their credit. Some credit card companies like Capital One and Discover are making moves to give consumers their credit scores when they access their account information online or receive their monthly statements.
But does easier access to credit scores translate to higher transparency on the benefits of the scores you’re getting?
This is where two factors come into play.
1. You’re just getting a piece of the pie
It’s important to know your credit score because your credit score is a major determining factor in whether or not you’re approved for a loan or other form of credit, as well as your interest rates. But, the scores lenders are giving to their consumers are only one of the many factors that go into lending and interest rate decisions.
2. Are the banks using the credit score you were given?
When you receive your credit score, you’re most likely going to receive an Equifax, Experian or TransUnion score, however the banks may use a FICO score. And though companies such as Discover and Barclays share FICO scores, there are over 50 FICO credit scores lenders can choose from. This is important because you may be misinformed when going in to meet with the banks and lose negotiating power when working out financing for a home, car, etc.
This is in no way to say checking your credit score is a waste of time and energy. To the contrary – it’s very important and I recommend you do so. However, I suggest you take it with a grain of salt.
I also suggest, as the Wall Street Journal article suggested, to check your credit report. The reports include loans, balances and payment history, including missed payments. This is criteria used to form your credit score.
It’s also important to check your credit report regularly because, according to findings released last year by the Federal Trade Commission, one in four consumers find an error in their credit reports that could have affected their score.
Consumers have access to one free credit report a year from the three main agencies – Equixfax, Experian and TransUnion – by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.
If your credit is struggling because you have bills you can’t pay and you’re deep in debt, I ask you to consider a bankruptcy. By filing for bankruptcy, your debt can either be discharged through a Chapter 7 or lumped into an affordable 3-5 year repayment plan through a Chapter 13.
Once your bankruptcy is complete, you have an opportunity to start fresh and re-establish your credit, then rebuild it the right way. At Darrell Castle & Associates, we have a 14-week program to help you with this called “7 Steps to a 720.” We offer this program free to our clients.
By signing up for “7 Steps to a 720,” you’ll learn:
- how to rebuild your credit the right way
- why most credit scores are wrong
- which credit cards actually hurt your credit score
- how to stop lenders that report the wrong information
- how to re-establish your credit after a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale
If you have any questions or if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, please contact us today, either online or by calling us at (901) 327-2100. One of our experienced Memphis bankruptcy attorneys will be happy to speak with you about your situation, free of charge.