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Credit Scores

A credit score is a three digit number that sums up your credit report.
According to a recent survey, 44% of people had no idea what a "credit score" is. Your score is important to know because companies use your credit score when considering you for loans and other services.

The score was created by the Fair Isaac Company, and it is based on the likelihood that you will pay your bills. A score of 720 or higher means that you're in great shape credit wise. The average score is 678. If your score drops below 650, you are considered "sub-prime".

Basically, the higher the score, the lower the risk... and vice versa.

Each of us has three credit scores - one for each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. These scores determine what type of loan or service each person gets.

If you are planning on buying a home or a car in the next few months, you will want get all three scores. You will have to pay for them in most cases, but the cost is worth it so you know your credit score before you start shopping. That way, you won't allow companies to charge you inflated rates.

Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

1. Pay your bills on time.
Payment history is the most important factor in determining your credit score. Getting in the habit of making on-time payments is a powerful way to start rebuilding your credit.

2. Pay down your debts - and consider charging less.
Lenders like to see plenty of room between the amount of debt you owe and your total credit limit. The wider the gap, the better your credit score.

3. Don't be afraid of debt consolidation.
If you are overloaded with high-interest debt and are in danger of or already have fallen behind on your payments, consider working with a non-profit debt consolidation company. These services can negotiate lower interest rates and help you to pay off your bills more quickly than you could on your own.

4. Stay away from bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy can knock 200 points or more from your credit score; this is not good for you. Bankruptcies are reported for up to ten years, and they make it almost impossible for you to be approved for any type of credit or loan. If you are approved, you will likely be charged a very high interest rate. Bankruptcy can make it difficult for you to get life insurance and even a job.

Education Center

Helpful Financial Forms - Download financial forms.

Credit Cards - Learn about important terms before applying for a credit card.

Consumer Rights - Learn about your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Debt Warning Signs - Learn about the warning signs of debt.

Credit Scores - Learn about credit scores and why they are so important.

Telemarketing Scams - Top 10 telemarketing scams.

Money Saving Tips - Tips to help you save money.

Consumer Debt Statistics - Detailed consumer debt statistics in the U.S.

Debt Management Plan - How debt management helps you.

Credit Repair - How credit repair helps you.

Foreclosure Prevention - How and why to prevent foreclosure.

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