"Why do I even have a credit score?"
That is a good question. A credit score summarizes your entire credit report information into one number. This number is calculated by a mathematical equation that evaluates many types of data points (score factors) from your credit report at that particular credit-reporting agency. By comparing this information to the patterns in thousands of past credit reports, scoring identifies your level of credit risk. Your score tells a lender how likely you are to repay a loan, or make credit payments on time. The higher your score is, the better chance you have of getting the credit you apply for.
"How do they come up with my credit score?"
Several ways. A credit score summarizes your entire credit report information into one number. This number is calculated by a mathematical equation that evaluates many types of data points (score factors) from your credit report at that particular credit-reporting agency. There are many types of score factors that can have a positive or negative effect on your score. The factors are listed in order of the degree to which they affect your score negatively, meaning that the factor listed first is what most decreased your score. Some examples of score factors include but are not limited to:
- too many inquiries (how often you apply for credit)
- too many serious delinquencies (how timely your account payments are)
- too many recently opened accounts (how often you have opened new lines of credit recently)
- average balance of revolving accounts is too high (what you owe vs. available)
"Do businesses even use a credit score?"
Yes, credit scores are one of the main tools creditors, employers, insurance and finance companies rely on to determine your creditworthiness. Your score is a quick snapshot that is often used when credit decisions are made quickly. Creditors may also obtain your full credit report, to access more detailed information to aide their decision on your level of risk. Each of the national credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, also offers industry-specific scores and methods to check credit. An industry-specific credit report score allows lenders in the various industries to better assess certain factors in your credit file. For instance, a lender in the automotive finance industry might request a score model that more closely evaluates your auto loan payment history. The actual score is based on the credit data available in your file with that credit reporting agency, and may vary from one to another. Your credit score rating may also vary, depending on the credit report score model requested (Auto specific, mortgage, etc).
"What is a way for me to get my credit report?"
If you want to get the free credit report that you are entitled to under federal law, you must go to www.annualcreditreport.com. At this website address, you can get your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion - once every 12 months. For daily monitoring of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies, use CheckFreeScore.com Credit Monitoring. Our service makes your personal report available online 24/7. You have peace of mind from knowing that your credit records are being monitored daily. If any irregular account activity is detected, we'll email you promptly.
"Is my credit report updated often?"
In general, creditors forward information to the credit reporting agencies monthly. The day of the month that each individual creditor sends updates varies. In other words, we might receive an update from creditor A on the first of every month and from creditor B on the 11th of every month, etc. This is why it's important to have access to your credit report every day.
"And what exactly is credit monitoring?"
Credit monitoring is a service that continuously monitors your credit report for changes. Changes could include missed payments, new inquiries or new accounts. CheckFreeScore.com Credit will immediately send out e-mail updates should there be any new alerts to your credit file. It is also an important tool for fighting identity theft as you will be updated immediately should someone try to open an account in your name. Without credit monitoring you are at risk of someone stealing your identity and racking up debt in your name.
"What do you mean by a credit inquiry?"
Credit inquiries are requests made by primarily financial companies to gauge your credit worthiness. They use the contents of your credit report to determine if and how much credit they should issue. The most common types of inquiries are made when you are applying for a credit card, auto or home loan, or looking to secure a new apartment. Inquiries can only be made with your authorization.
"What exactly are the benefits of having a CheckFreeScore.com membership?"
By enrolling in CheckFreeScore.com, you receive unlimited access to your credit report and score. You also receive 24/7 credit monitoring, e-mail alerts, credit report consultation, and access to our credit education center. There are also optional benefits available to members including access to all 3 credit reports and scores and enhanced identity theft protection.
"How can I examine my credit report and score?"
After you have completed the enrollment process, you will be automatically directed to our member dashboard. From the member dashboard, you can easily navigate between the different benefits by using the tabs near the top of the page.
"How do I see credit alerts?"
After you have logged in to the member dashboard, there is a tab at the top of the page for credit alerts. You can click that tab and it will display any alerts you have received.
"What do I do when I receive a credit alert?"
The action you need to take will depend on what the credit alert is about. For example, you could receive an alert that there was a new inquiry on your report. If you recently applied for credit, that would explain the inquiry, however if it was not you, you should take action by calling the company listed on the inquiry. The same logic would apply for new accounts opened in your name.