Your credit score: Some things you should know

Credit scores are becoming more important in all kinds of transactions.  They are no longer used just for issuing credit.  Landlords use them to decide if they should rent to you, and employers use them to help them decide on whether or not they should offer you a job.  So it is important to pay attention to your credit score, but that is getting to be more difficult.

Of course you should get your annual free copy of your credit report to make sure entries are accurate. While our main archive article has good advice ( see: How to Improve Your Credit Score ), you should be aware of a couple of things:

1.  There are multiple credit scores.  While the FICO score is the most used, there are multiple companies issuing scores, and even the FICO people have multiple scores, such as one for auto sales and another used by banks for mortgages.  These may have different scores than the public one.

2.  Large companies often use multiple scores and then add their own factors to create their own custom score or equivalent.

3.  Changing a score is tough and many of the “credit repair” firms are not much help and they can charge a lot of money.  There are simulators that will help see what effect different actions might have on your score.

Two sites, Credit Karma and Quizzle seem to be free, and the Wall Street Journal claims they “…offer a window into the key factors that go into calculating your scores, what you can do to improve them and how your credit stacks up against others.”

Quizzle, in particular, offers several free tools, like budgeting tools and credit repair tools, that you might find useful. We did not try them since you have to register.

Another site, Credit.com, won’t give you anything free as far as I can tell unless you subscribe to one of several different credit checking services they offer. The cheapest one will cost you almost $120 a year.
A new site, CreditXpert.com , is often available from real estate brokers and others who are trying to sell things that need credit.

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