Some of my colleagues on the Equifax Credit Team spend their days educating our customers on what their credit file says about them. Many consumers might think that this is the extent of what a credit-reporting agency can do for them. But in my job as director of the Product Management Team within Equifax Personal Solutions, I ensure that Equifax consumer products and services are working for customers and meeting their needs.
The financial world is changing, and credit, identity protection and debt-related products can help consumers prepare for these changes. I look at consumer products in terms of how they can help people understand credit and identity and how these two things affect their day-to-day lives.
Credit is a huge part of your identity. It’s how creditors, lenders, employers, and insurers view you. Although you can’t always change your credit information, you should be aware of it. You don’t want to be caught unawares when you’re sitting at your mortgage lender’s desk filling out an application. The key is responsible credit behavior-which consumers should also look at as reputation management.
Your credit report is an anchor of your financial life. Maybe you understand the components of your credit report and feel pretty confident in your 680 credit score. But your lender understands that not all 680′s are created equal, and you should understand why.
Say you had a 750 credit score a year ago, but then you were unemployed for a few months, skipped a credit card payment, and were a little late on your mortgage. Your score dropped down to 680, and you’re not looking as good as another applicant who, although he also has a 680, has been steadily improving his score for the last year through on-time payments. Generally speaking, the other guy will probably receive a better rate and pay fewer fees.
Your credit report and credit score don’t paint the whole picture of your financial life, but by staying aware of what’s going on with your report and score, you’ll be better financially prepared than someone who has no clue or hasn’t had an active credit life.
I see awareness growing in some parts of the population, but I still see people with their heads in the sand. They think what they don’t know won’t hurt them. I see this more with the older population.
Younger people are more willing to share personal information to get something in return. But with this growing willingness to share information comes a need to protect it, and to understand how it is being used.
There are many ways and opportunities for you to educate yourself and take control of your credit life. I hope to use this blog to share information about what you can do beyond checking your credit report and credit score. I also want to hear from you. Have you used credit- or identity-monitoring products? What did you like? What would you change?
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