You Credit Score- How's Your FICO?

Because we live in a computer-driven society, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness comes down to one number. All the years you've been paying your various bills: your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills are analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

The three reporting agencies use slightly different formulas to build a credit score. The original FICO was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While these methods vary from one agency to another, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors in building your credit score:

  • Credit History - Have you had credit for years, or for a short time?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Your Credit Card Balances - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
  • Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted slightly differently depending on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly from one agency to another. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers these days have a score above 620.

Your score greatly affects how much you pay in interest every month

Did you know? FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

Raising your FICO score

Is it possible to improve your FICO score? Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You should, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect reporting from your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Getting your credit score

Before you can improve your score, you must get your score and make sure that the credit reports from each agency are correct. Fair Isaac, the corporation that invented the first FICO credit score, sells credit scores on myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide helpful information and tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from the three major credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. While this report does not include a free credit score, the cost to "upgrade" your report to include a credit score is very reasonable.

Armed with this info, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage.

Curious about your FICO score? Call us at (415) 456-7802.

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