About the FICO Credit Score
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Since our world is so computer-driven, it's probably not that surprising that your creditworthiness boils down to a single number.
The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.
The three credit 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 the formulas vary from one agency to another, all of the agencies use the following to determine your score:
- Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
- Payment History - Do you pay your bills on time?
- Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe on your accounts?
- Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?
These factors are weighted a little bit differently depending on which formula the agency uses. The result is a single number: your FICO score. FICO scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 850. Higher scores are better. Most folks who want to get a mortgage in the current environment score 620 or above.
Not just for qualifying
FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.
Raising your FICO score
Is it possible to raise your FICO score? Some companies promise quick fixes, but they can't do anything different than what you can do — for free. You must remove any incorrect data from your credit report; this is really the only "quick fix" for credit troubles.
How do I find out my credit score?
Before you can improve your score, you must obtain your score and ensure that the credit reports from each reporting agency are correct. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive to get your FICO from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. They also provide information and online 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 every year from all three credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is quick and very inexpensive.
Armed with this information, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.
Want to know more about credit scores? Give us a call: (714) 827-5125.