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How Your Credit Score Is Calculated

Written by Diane Moogalian on July 10, 2013 in Credit  |   223 comments

Your credit score helps lenders and creditors assess your risk as a borrower, and can influence everything from your credit limit to your mortgage interest rate. Diane Moogalian explains how this important score is calculated.

how your credit score is calculatedLast updated July 10, 2013 to reflect the price of obtaining a credit score from annualcreditreport.com.

Your credit score is a three-digit number that is calculated from your credit report to gauge your reliability as a borrower. It can be used to predict whether you’ll pay back your loans or pay debts on time, and it also helps to determine whether you are generally a good risk for lender.

Credit scores typically range from 300 to 850, and each of the three traditional credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) calculates your credit score based on the information it has in your credit report.

The credit reporting agencies don’t seek out information from creditors or lenders, and they can only build your credit report based on the information reported to them. Your credit score is determined by a number of factors in your credit report, including:

  • The number of accounts you have.
  • The types of accounts.
  • Your available credit.
  • The length of your credit history.
  • Your payment history.

You’re entitled to one free credit report from each credit reporting agency, once a year, from annualcreditreport.com. You can also get your credit score at that time for a small fee, about $9. If you want to have more regular access to your credit report and score, you might want to consider a credit monitoring service from one of the credit reporting agencies.

It’s important to check your credit report regularly because if any of the information is inaccurate, if any of your accounts are missing, or if there is information that doesn’t belong to you, it can hurt your credit score. If you find inaccurate information, you should immediately file a dispute with the credit reporting agency.

Accurate information is important for your credit score, but any bankruptcies, collections, foreclosures, late payments, or other financial problems can negatively affect it. However, negative information only stays on your credit report a set period of time—usually seven years—so positive behavior like on-time payments and responsible credit usage can improve your score over time.

Diane Moogalian is Vice President of Operations for Equifax Personal Solutions with responsibility for operational strategy and execution in support of customer care and fulfillment of credit and identity-related products for consumers.

223 comments

  1. Raymonds says:

    Thanks for this informative post . If we have old credit card accounts that we are no longer using, is it a good idea to close them? Wondering whether the payment history is only for active cards or not.
    I use equifax to check my credit score at least 4 times a year. Great online reporting and accessory services. You can get a coupon to save a few bucks.
    http://firefinance.blogspot.com/2010/10/equifax-promotion-code_5.html

    Don’t know if links are allowed, if not, sorry. Was trying to share so that others could benefit.

    • Dustin says:

      No, you should not close out old CC accounts. These accounts although you may not use them play a big role in your credit score. They add history to your account. Every year that you have and keep them open you average account age gets higher (which is good). This shows lenders that you have a long history of good credit. If you were to close out all of your older accounts your average account age would go down. Eample:

      You have 3 credit cards. 1) You have had for 6 months. 2) You have had for 5 years. 3) You have had for 18 years. All together you average acct. age is about 7.8 years. If you were to close out #3 your average would be roughly 2.75 years. (Understand this calculation does include your vehicle and home loans as well.)

      I hope this helps.

      • EFX Moderator, EM says:

        Great points, Dustin. The average length of your credit accounts plays a role in your credit score. The longer your accounts are open, the better for your score. Here’s more information on how closing a credit account could affect your credit score: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/credit-score-changes-how-does-closing-an-account-affect-my-credit-score/

        Thanks for posting and come back again soon!

        • Mel “streamline credtit card guy” says:

          I have a question for the EFX Moderator. I recently closed an old credit card that i have for years because i got a better credit card that has better benefits etc. i thought streamlining my credit cards would be good–i always pay on time. But what i notice my credit score actually went down!!!

          should i reopen that card i just closed? and would that positively affect my credit? please let me know

          • EFX Moderator, EM says:

            Great question, Mel. Part of your credit score is based on average length of open accounts. Closing a credit card will lower that length and might lower your score. You’re right that on-time payments are very important as well. We have a blog about improving your credit score, and you have accomplished the first task of opening a new account and paying it off. Other steps include keeping your balance low and continuing to pay on time. Read here for more information on improving your credit score: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/improve-your-credit-score-and-creditworthiness/. I hope it helps and thanks for posting.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s correct never close them it is good to keep them open at all times.

        • ray says:

          It seems that buying a new house and furniture—-on credit 5 months ago– has resulted in my credit score going from 780 to 715!!!!

          Nothing else has changed in my financial dealings… so I can only conclude that these two loans have effectively lowered my ‘history’ and thus, a drastic score lowering…

          Ray

      • jonathan k. says:

        I am very cynical about the entire process. Other than talking to a few lenders about refinancing and HARP, I have seldom looked at my credit report or applied for any new credit for some 8 or 9 years. Nevertheless, according to the big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), even though I have never authorized anyone to check my credit scores, many entities desirous of obtaining my business (including credit card agencies), have sought credit reports regarding me. According to ALL reports, my credit score has been substantially damaged by these requests even though, in the majority of cases, I never authorized these requests Why should I be punished for these activities which are not authorized by me or related to any negative credit action? More importantly, there is the credit score that the big three provide and a shadow credit score or other scores for activities like housing loans and refinancing. Why are these scores different and why is there no transperancy about any of the scores – the agencies provide general information but refuse to provide specific information on how scores are developed and impact final scores, including the apparent use of data older than 7 years. For example, what is the value assigned to missing one credit card bill, whether by accident or not, and despite the huge penalty fees a person has to pay? In my case the only late payment os over 6 years old but appears to be substantially damaging even though I believe I paid it and my bank is unable to provide the record, yet my bank is deferred to and I am presumed in the wrong.

    • C. Autery says:

      Not only should you not close them, you should take measures to insure that the credit grantor doesn’t close them for “non-use”.

      I have ALL of my credit cards on an “exercise” listing with date of last use and an “exercise” date at 6 months. (So every card gets used every 6 months.) It need not be a large purchase. Just a “keep alive transaction”.

      Additionally, I regularly (about once a year) request a credit line increase on ALL cards. Some are granted, some are not. But the larger your potential credit lines, the better. Don’t ask me why, but it helps.

      NOTE: DO NOT allow them to do a “hard pull” of your report as a result of your request. ALWAYS specifically state, “I DO NOT grant you permission to do a hard pull of my report for this request.”

      MOST successful credit line increases (w/o hard pull) are best granted by online login requests (check the fine print… they HAVE to note if their policy requires a report pull).

      Try to keep “hard” Credit Inquiries as low as absolutely possible. ZERO is best but in no circumstances should you let it go above 2 on any bureau…

      AND the higher your credit score the more a Hard inquiry hurts your score…

      My experience…

    • Linda says:

      I was also told to use my debit cardas credit when using it. Said it would raise your credt score.

      • Joe says:

        Using a debit card as a credit card (signature transaction) does not affect your credit score. It is still a debit at your bank, not a line of credit.

    • Anonymous says:

      how long do inquiries stay on your credit?

  2. John says:

    Also worth noting is negative information in the public record is automatically collected & entered in personal credit files. (ie. Death, divorce, default, foreclosure, bankruptcy, tax liens, criminal convictions, etc.)

    Positive information in the public record (marriage, discharged debt…) is not automatically collected or entered in personal credit files.

    • jimmy says:

      criminal convictions are not entered into credit files

    • Janice s says:

      Had a tax lien, we were traveling abroad and never got a bill in the mail, ( neighbor checking for us) immediatly when we returned we went to check why we did not recieve a bill! We paid of course but it is still on public record how can we get this removed? Help!

      • EFX Moderator, EM says:

        Janice, You could file a dispute with the credit reporting agency. If you have proof that you didn’t receive the bill because you were traveling (did you put your mail on hold?) that could help. You could also try to work with your tax assessor and explain the situation. Here’s information on disputing credit report errors. I hope this helps.

  3. Bobby says:

    Score Watch is updating based on my current statement balance. This doesn’t make much sense in my case. Two months ago I charged and paid off $4K in business travel expenses on my credit card. This month I charged $8K in new business travel expenses (which I just paid off). Score watch thinks I doubled my card balance and dinged me 9 points.

    • D. L. Cole says:

      I am also experiencing that every time I pull up my score it goes down each time on this site. Why? I am paying off credit cards. It seems to me that my score should go up, not down. You have lowered it from 716 to 698. Do not tell me any other lies about why it’s going down, because I pay everything on time, no new credit cards, no charging on any of my credit cards. Your site puts negative comments when I pay off credit cards, your computers are not human and do not interpret correctly. You need to rewrite your computer program. Very unfair. I am obviously disgusted. To me it is a no win situation!

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m having the same problem. I’ve paid off a car as well as several credit cards over the past 6 month and my credit score dropped 30 points. Then when I complained about the score calculation it started going up 1 point here and 1 point there. So far it’s only incresed 4 points since then. But I have no collection accounts. Paid off my car loan and 3 credit cards. I totall I reduced my debt by $4700.00. I just don’t get it. The score was higher when I had the increased amount of debt so I’m really confused.

      • kelly says:

        Yes, I am having the same problem. I seriously overpay each month and my score has gone from 756 to 670 due to new accounts opened—new accounts with 0% balance transfer offers….they are not fair at all. I have never missed a payment in my life either.

        • charley says:

          system is weird one revolving acct credit limit is $3500.00 i use it each week and paaya monthly totaling apporox $21000.00 annully, Im penalized ,score goingn down all thre time because balaaaaance is too high,
          I always have a balance and am allways payoing accoumts all report paying on time. paay 21000. on 3500. you cant seem to get it . thisw is pay your bills people

          charley

          • Eric says:

            It’s a bit weird, but here goes the explanation. You want to pay off your credit card bills after your account closes for the month. The date the account closes is the date that information is typically, but not always, transmitted from the financial institution to the credit reporting agency. If you’re charging and paying during the time from when your account last closed and before it closes again for the current month, there won’t be anything to report to the credit agency except for a zero balance.

            Take the temporary hit, let the balance get reported to the credit agency, which to them will appear as activity on a dormant account and you might see a few points knocked off your FICO score, but within a few months of paying the bill off after your account closes and then a zero balance being reported the next month, you’ll see your FICO score normalize and go back up. HTH.

          • Alan in Dallas says:

            Paying off your cards may help your monthly cash-flow but it’s BAD to your score as once your card is paid off it no longer plays a part in the score calculations.

            What I would recommend is keeping a small manageable balance on your cards, for example $100. Pay the $10 minimum payment and use the card every once in awhile but keep the balance around $100. You’ll see your score skyrocket.

            Hope this helps,

            Alan in Dallas

  4. whyisthisso says:

    I am now divorced and have never been able to establish my credit because my
    ex had all the credit.
    I have had IRS problems it seems for ever and am working on a offer compromise
    which has come about.
    I’m a subcontractor in construction and have always paid cash ,check etc as i go along.
    I want to get started in esstablishing credit to show i can pay off loans .what do i do 1st.?

    • Sureenuf says:

      As long as you have no bankruptcies, you can buy a small house. Later on, you can trade it up for a bigger house and build equity. USDA AND Fanny Mae loans give you no to 3% down.

      Car loans can lower your credit for the first 2 – 5 years. Not a good idea.

    • Texan84 says:

      Easiest way I’ve found to build credit is to start small, and with something that gets used and paid off fairly regularly. The oldest account I have is for a credit card for a gas station. I use the card when I fill up and pay it off at the end of each month. These credit limits are usually fairly small, but it is something you’re likely already paying cash or debit for anyways. Once you establish a solid payment history, other lenders are more likely to grant you credit and you can work your way up to a mortgage loan.

      Don’t go opening a whole lot of cards at once though. A lot of newly opened credit accounts can actually lower your credit score. Actively seeking credit can lower your score, and it will decrease your average account age which also factors into your score.

  5. Jim says:

    This credit thing is only a business for credit card conpanies, and nobody else…

    • Paul says:

      Jim, what backup do you have for that comment? You should make another comment that includes any other companies or organizations that “require” consumers to have good credit (i.e. mortgage companies & other lenders)

      • Adam says:

        Paul, I have to agree with Jim. This country is abusing the credit system and runining peoples lives. Also, many things that should not be used for credit checks are being used. Such as, to rent or get a security clearance or a job…

        • Gerald says:

          As far as for a clearance it makes total sense. It shows responsibility.

          • kenny says:

            I agree it shows respnsibility, but it does not show loyalty to your company or country. Just because you have good credit does not mean you are a good person or citizen.

          • David says:

            Actually the reason that bad credit is taken into account for a security clearance is because it increases the likelihood that you could be bribed for classified information because you need the money. Not to say that someone that has good credit couldn’t also be bribed but desperately needing money increases the probability that you might take a bribe to fix your financial situation. People do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do when pressed into a corner. It’s that simple. Bankruptcy will almost guarantee you won’t get a security clearance and will likely cause the loss of a clearance level until the situation is resolved.

        • Charles says:

          There are some standard rules to follow to build and protect credit:
          1. Pay your bills on time. Who wants to loan money to someone who does not pay.
          2. Don’t use all available credit. The more of your credit you use the more risk you become because it cuts into your disposable income.
          3. Manage your income to debt ratio very closely. This basically show’s a lender your ability to pay. If you mak3 $30K/yr it going to be very hard to pay for a $50K car.
          4. Pay off but don’t close old credit cards- they build good history
          5. Beware, of loan brokers, they shop around for the best rate for you, but each lender is making an inquiry to your credit and thus impacting your credit score.

    • Marc says:

      I am getting a divorce, how will that affect my credit

      • Elisha, moderator says:

        Hi Marc, It’s important to make sure your credit report is accurate even through a divorce. We have some information on how divorce can impact your credit report here: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/what-does-divorce-do-to-my-credit/

      • Ron says:

        I could have made one of those commercials on TV about credit. My ex and I were buying a house. Since it was before we were married and was only going into my name (I had good credit and other homes and knew I could borrow the money) then I call and tell bank to add her since we would be married soon. Bank calls me back and the short of it is I had to pay $9,000 in bad credit of hers. I began teaching her about how to keep good credit, use money, etc. She kept applying for credit cards and getting denied. After several years they started giving her CCs. They were all just in her name but she put me on as authorized user (very different than joint holder). When we divorced, I removed my name from all the cards and my score dropped 40 points. They said it was due to having less credit available. I have two CC rarely used. Fortunate enough to pay cash for most things. That actually hurts my score too. Very unfair. They keep saying my mortgage it too much of my credit but they don’t say that I have 80% equity in my property. It’s flawed but the system does help in some cases. I would never get married again without doing a credit report. There are many classes out there (mostly at churches) that you can take on how to manage your credit. TAKE THEM! I did years ago and haven’t made a perfect 850 yet but getting close. It’s all in knowing how the system works. It’s so important in life they should teach it at school.

  6. Greg says:

    I would like to know why my credit score is different from the equifax website which I check weekly than when I have an inquiry from a lender. These scores should be the same. Can you please tell me the difference and why?

    • Bob says:

      Greg, Other credit reporting agencies other than the big three, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian-(which does about as much updating as the private credit reporting agencies and is always less accurate than Equifax and Trans Union) do not update your credit information for their files, that would be too accurate and would also cost them a fortune since they are like the public. They would rather be rich than accurate!That is why they most likely update information about every six months?

      • Anonymous says:

        when dealing with a lender they take your lowest score and that is what they use.

        • Anonymous says:

          The score given to the consumer and the score given to the lender are different. No one really ever explains this. I work for a Credit Card company and can attest to the fact we DO NOT take the lowest score. In fact, we usually pull 2 credit bureaus and use the one most favorable to the customer. BUT that score is ALWAYS lower than the score revealed to the consumer “online.”

        • David says:

          That’s not entirely accurate. It depends on the type of credit you are applying for. When applying for a vehicle loan this is more likely but still dependent on the bank. When applying for a mortgage, some banks take the middle score and some do an average but all banks take all three scores into account for a mortgage. Credit card companies generally pull from one credit bureau. It depends on which one they have a deal with. Very rarely a CC company will pull from more than one. So you could get lucky and they happen to pull from the one that is your highest or you could get unlucky and they pull from the lowest. There are actually some resources online that show what banks pull from what bureau. But even that is no guarantee because it’s based on reporting from people that have applied before you.

      • Wesley says:

        Hi Bob,
        Actually Credit Reporting Agencies update their information as soon as they recieve it. They store the information that is reported to them so as soon as information is reported then the records automatically update. As far as a credit score goes, it can change on a daily basis due to the fact that every day your accounts become slightly older and are factored in to your score differently. As far as being rich instead of accurate, Equifax Transunion and Experian are still companies that have to make money to survive.

    • Chris says:

      Greg,

      Bob totally misunderstood your question. You are exactly right that lenders may get different credit scores than what you see. This SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN! With the possible exception that you, the consumer, see every possible score that a lender could see.

      Each of the scores you see would have a name or number for the “model” being used, and when you asked a lender what model they used and what score they got for you it would match up exactly with those same items provided by the credit bureaus to you.

      One day maybe Congress will get around to writing some meaningful rules that require this. Until then there will continue to be no transparency in credit reporting.

      Chris

  7. Anonymous says:

    Credit scores are a joke. I have been trying to rebuild my credit for the past 4 years and it still remains the same even dropped last month. I had a bankruptcy 5 years ago. Currently have a car loan for 2 years and a few credit cards with little to no balance. Always pay every month. I give up.

    • Elisha, moderator says:

      Rebuilding your credit is an important goal. Late payments and other negative accounts can remain on your report for 7 years. Here’s more information on how long accounts will stay on your credit report: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/faq-how-long-does-information-stay-on-my-credit-report/

    • Ben says:

      Hey, actually I had a bankruptcy right after I got hurt on the job, unless you beg the credit reporting agencies to remove the bankruptcy in 7 years it will actually stay on your credit for up to 10 years,depending on what chapter you filed under. Experian will not remove until after 10 years,no matter what! but Equifax and TransUnion will if you talk to a live customer support agent located in this country! But , your score will go up almost 100 points when they do come off your report, if not higher, just keep paying off your credit cards balances every month and don’t be late and trust me it will go up! I was at 400 in 2003 and now my FICO is 780.

  8. Sheila says:

    How can ones credit score decrease WITHOUT any changes in their credit profile? Decreased 11 points with Equifax, overnight.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you using your availble credit? Use your credit cards like money you have in pocket but pay them off every month!

      • EFX Moderator, EM says:

        Good advice. Use your credit wisely and your credit report will reflect that.

        Thanks for keeping the conversation going. Stop by for more information about credit reporting soon at the Equifax Finance Blog.

        • Josh says:

          1 to 2 years is a long time that isn’t good news! You guys shouldn’t be able to punish her for something someone else did! Your company needs to put rules in place. Them sending it 12 times islittle over board if you ask me and she should have a negative impact on her credit for that!

  9. Dana says:

    I am a member of a credit union that uses Equifax exclusively for their credit credit pulls and decision making. I also subscribe to this service and have monitored my credit activity for the past two months. However, the score that my credit union pulled recently and the score I obtain from this service is different by 50 points: that is, the credit union’s score is 50 points below my Equifax “direct” score. Why such a difference? I would think that your scoring model is consistent from user to user…..? Please explain.

  10. Bart says:

    Why is the bank score so different then the three reporting agency scores? They tell me that they don’t go by the “consumer score” that equifax rates you. How do I get the bank score up to what I am rated by the “consumer score” from the agency?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Bart– There are different credit score models available to lenders for things like mortgages and car loans. The lender determines if it prefers an industry-weighted score or a blended score from all three credit reporting agencies. More information about it is available in this blog:
      http://blog.equifax.com/credit/why-is-the-credit-score-my-lender-calculated-different-from-my-equifax-score/

      Thank you for posting.

      • Kyle says:

        I too experienced this just this week. Seems somewhat ridiculous that my Mortgage Company received a 744 score for me, and what I see is 778. And dont tell me that it is a blended score between Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion…….because all 3 are higher than 744. 778, 756, and 789 to be exact. Some thinigs just dont make sense….Maybe not a big deal, but when shopping for a product, what I see is a 744 puts you into a 6-7% risk categorically…..a 778 or 789 puts you in a 2% risk. Seems I would get a better product (interest rate) with the 789 score…..no?

        • EFX Moderator, EM says:

          Kyle, Lenders report information about your credit accounts and payment habits to credit-reporting agencies. Scores can change even over a day, depending on what information has been reported. Your mortgage lender might also be using a different formula to calculate your score. You can read more about the industry-weighted models. You can bring in copies of your scores using other models, like the Equifax Credit Score. The mortgage lender might consider using it for its decision.

          • April says:

            I’ve run into the same situation and the scores were so different is was the difference between approval and non-approval. When I asked the lender and attempted to provide the current score they only told me that I would have to dispute it with Equifax. Um, so thanks Equifax…

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Credit scores that the credit bureau’s give to the consumer are really useless, to buy a car boat or anything the banks all use a different rating system that is filtered for mortgages, so you may show 780 but the score the banks come up with is 680, why not give us both scores when we pay for Equifax and the other credit bureau’s?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Lenders can use different credit score models. Some use industry-weighted scores, and others use blended scores from all three credit reporting agencies. If your Equifax Credit Score differs greatly from the score your lender has calculated, you might want to bring a recent copy of your Equifax Credit Score to the lender. You can then compare the differences and figure out which information is missing or inaccurate.

      Great question, thanks for sharing.

  12. Doug says:

    Credit Bureaus verify no information about consumers given to them by their customers.Their customer sends them your information, correct or incorrect. If their customer says you owe them, then it is put on your record you owe. This should only be allowed if a judge or court proceeding has ruled against you and that you actually owe the debt.You should not have to verify that you don’t have a negative account. They should have to produce documentation of due process. Also,why do we have to pay for our own information? It’s all about the Dollar. They are businesses making a buck off the grief of others.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I have been working very hard to get my credit built back up. I seem to get no where. I went through a horrible divorce and had my house repossed during that time after a house fire. My car was tied to a second mortage on the home and so it was repossed. My scores seem to go up but I am still unable to seem to make progress. I currently have no credit cards nor debt but this stuff is I realized staying on for seven years. Most of the bad debt and late payments are going on 5 to 6 years now. Is there any encouragement that you can possibly give me?
    DL Taylor

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      DL Taylor — Congratulations on working to improve your creditworthiness. While those negative accounts like foreclosures and collections can stay on your credit report for 7 years, you can start to improve your credit score through more positive activities. You might want to consider taking out a credit card and charging small amounts that you can pay off every month. Making on-time payments every month will go a long way to establishing a solid credit history after those negative accounts drop off your report. Good Luck!

  14. SRS says:

    How does the number of accounts impact your credit?

  15. RW says:

    Are there many people at or near the 850 range. I am just over 800 but wants to go higher. How can this be done? I presently has a car payment and three credit cards.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      RW, Building a strong credit score is a great goal. Read this blog about improving creditworthiness. It’s directed to improving financial habits, but the same steps could be used to build a good credit history for people in any circumstance. Please come back and let us know your progress. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Ryan says:

    Equifax has been horrible with updating my credit report. I have disputed charges from my lenders every month for the past year. Of the three bureaus, Equifax is the only one reporting FALSE information. My score is being impacted negatively because of this. I have submitted my bankruptcy documents and discharge papers, but Equifax is reporting what the lying lenders are reporting. I call and talk to a live agent, and obviously, our courts do not matter to Equifax. Equifax takes lenders information over the bankruptcy court. Pathetic!

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Ryan, I’m really sorry to hear of your troubles disputing information. You’re right that accurate information on your credit report is important, and I’m glad to hear you’re taking the steps to do that with the credit reporting agencies (CRAs). It sounds like you’ve been working on this recently. Sometimes it takes awhile for information from one CRA to reach other. If you want to hurry the process along, there are two things you could try.

      1) You could contact the lender directly. They should keep up-to-date records and quickly update your file with all CRAs they report to.

      2) If that doesn’t help, try submitting another dispute and include all of the information you have from the lender as well as the updates other CRAs have made to your report.

      Ryan, I do hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please let us know.

  17. coreyc563 says:

    I have 4 old collection accounts from about 6 years ago on my report for medical bills. They have been paid off for over 4 years now and show a 0 balance but they also still list it as open when I view the report. Is this something I should ask to have changed to closed and if so would that help my credit score?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Thanks for sharing, and great question. It’s important that information on your credit report is accurate. You could talk to the lender about updating the record you think is in error, or you are welcome to file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies directly. Steps for filing a dispute on information on your Equifax credit report can be found here: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/what-to-do-if-you-think-theres-an-error-on-your-credit-report/

      Without knowing specifics, it’s hard to know how it will affect your credit score specifically, but accurate information will always give a better idea of your personal creditworthiness.

  18. Shirley says:

    I Set autopayment to my cards, last month one card’s payment was cancelled with no reason (I called the credit servise, they have no clue how that happened). But I didn’t pay my bill on time which drag my score down badly. If the bank found out it was not my fault and refund me the “late payment fee”, will my score be restore too?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Shirley, Auto-payments are supposed to prevent us from making late payments, but even those systems can fail sometimes. It’s great that you caught it. You might want to talk to your bank about the missed payment. Many lenders will work with you if you explain what happened and you have a history of on-time payments. Let us know how it goes with the lender, and thanks for asking.

  19. CJ says:

    I’m trying to crack the code concerning Equifax Score calculation. There were no significant changes or inquiries on my Equifax Credit Report, but it dropped 11 points and just today it dropped another 3. I called a representative and he could not explain why it happened, but pointed out my debt to income ratio. Each month the debt decreased which should improve my score. I’m trying to crack the code, but can’t get an answer. I think I’ll hire a lawyer. Maybe the can investigate the true practices use to calculate an Equifax Credit Score…

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      CJ, it’s great that you are so aware of your credit score. These small dips add up and can impact your ability to get a loan later. Good for you for checking. You’re right that debt-to-income is important when calculating your credit score. Other factors that contribute to your score are payment history, available balance, length of credit history, opening new accounts, and types of credit. All of this information is used together to calculate your score. Here’s more information on how your credit score is calculated: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/debt-reduction-why-paying-down-your-credit-card-debt-helps-your-credit-score/

      I hope this helps in figuring out how your personal score is calculated.

  20. Gene F. Cooper says:

    I truly think the name of the game is milking and utilizing the time element to drag the monetary anchor at a depth so time consuming that many lose the drive to stay on top of the situation. Some of these lenders do use only scores that will benefit their earnings from your hard earned dollars. I purchased a car for my wife with a credit score of 732, and exprcted a percentage rate of 1.5 to 2.0 percent. to my surprise, after the fact, a finance company got the account, and I was told that this lender only took accounts with very good credit. When I checked the payment info and the interest rate they charged me, the only thing missing was the gun used to hold me up. The interest rate Was almost 7%, I was told that the credit score I had at the time of the purchase was 644. I checked with the CRA and there was no such score that low in any of the three CRA’s. They made it up for their purposes. I’m still steaming about this, after I have been doing business with this dealership (puchasing 3 new cars). I can’t and won’t write anything close to satisfactory in a survey they ask from me,
    in truth, I cannot do it, I would have to lie. Coop USMC/Retired(Vietnam 1966,7,8,9,and ’70)

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Gene, lenders can use different models to calculate your score. Some use industry-weighted scores, others use blended scores from all three credit reporting agencies. It’s up to the the lender what they prefer to use. Click here to read more about how your credit score could be calculated differently depending on who is using it. You can always show the lender the credit score you see, and they may use it in their decision. Thanks for bringing up this point, and hope to see you again soon on the blog.

  21. Chris B. says:

    One realistic question to ask, after seeing all the information above (and other sources) about the frustrations of ‘different scores with different lenders/credit agencies’ is – WHY are the members of the overall lending community ALLOWED to use different models? Since the government sets fundamental aspects of our financial system (prime Lending Rate, as one example) – we should have a SINGLE method that is clearly defined, which ALL lenders and other groups use to calculate ANYONE’s credit score. THIS would be something that would truly align with ‘consumer friendly’ and reduce confusion and angst….

    One additional point – if the lender/agency wants to ALSO come up with their own ‘proprietary credit score’ – go ahead, let them – BUT if it differs measurably from the official credit score – either there should be laws that clearly identify why a lender would be allowed to use a ‘nonstandard’ score – OR they should just NOT be allowed to use it.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Chris B, that’s an interesting point. There is legislation in place to support consumer credit rights and reduce confusion in reporting, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. This legislation has gone along way to give consumers easier access to their credit report while protecting them from identity thieves, a growing problem.

      The team here at Equifax Finance Blog is available to answer questions to reduce any confusion that consumers may have.

      Great thoughts though, and I’m sure it’ll bring about a great conversation. I’m looking forward to hearing it. Thanks for posting.

  22. G Peel says:

    Any ideas on how I get a promotion code to get a credit score report for only $19.95 instead of paying $39.95?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      G Peel, Knowing your credit score is a really powerful tool and I highly recommend that everyone know where they stand so they know their purchasing power or where to improve. I see that Equifax is currently offering your credit report and score for $15.95. It’s easy to sign up so click here and get started. Thanks for asking!

  23. Tanya says:

    I had a negative account on my credit report that did not belong to me, it was almost $5,000. I disputed this account, eventually equifax removed it but my credit score did not go up! Why is that? If this account dropped my credit score almost 60 points shouldn’t it go back up after it was deleted?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Tanya, I’m glad to hear that you are closely monitoring your credit report and score. Your credit score is based on a combination of items, including payment history, average length of accounts, and balance to limit ratio. All of this information is used together to come up with your score. Although this negative item was removed, it could be that other changes in your credit history happened. I encourage you to review your credit report again to make sure it’s accurate. Read this blog to learn ways to improve your credit score and credit worthiness. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  24. James says:

    I am suffering from credit score shock. Back in the end of November I signed up for the Equifax system to go in a clean up my credit reports with a paid service instead of using the yearly free report. I regularly each go through and clean out erroneous entries and dispute incorrect items.

    My credit score is now LOWER than when I was in a personal bankruptcy with an IRS lein 5 years ago. Its 567 in fact it went down 80 points after I cleaned it up in Nov, 2012 through Equifax by removing debt that did not belong to me. It appears I am being penalized for 2 things. 1 is a item where the original credit card company charged off/closed the account and sold it to another branch of the same company so the name changed a little but still started the same way. Then that company placed it in collections and another company that they hired took up the collections. I arranged a 27 month plan and paid it in full. I have tried again and again to get Equifax and the 2 other reporting agencies to recognize this is one 1 account with 3 different entities handling it. The amount in question was a $3700 credit limit with $1800 in penalities and interest which I paid. Yet those 27 months were shown as CO entries even though I was paying on time as as agreed. Upon disputing and having it noted that I paid it as agreed my credit score dived 80 points.

    The second item is a company I have dealt with for 12 years which is a finance company were I regularly make payments and then once every 12-18 months I refinance the debt to get cash flow increase. But apparently this is being counted against me because its never shows a large amount of free overhead yet it is in my history as paid in full 8 times as that they pay off the old one when starting a new one.

    Finally I don’t have a mortgage because the home I’m in is free and clear and I make $70K+ pay on time and triple the required payments. In fact some accounts I make 8 payments a month to them so that their balances constantly go down. I do not understand how I have a lower score that when I was in the middle of a 10 year dispute with the IRS which I won and a personally bankruptcy from 1996 which is gone off my record. Then I had a 636. I had a higher rate in the 1990′s when I was leveraged up to my neck with a mortgage with a 9.95% rate and $100,000 in credit card debt but my score was in the high 750′s. What am I doing wrong?

  25. Ronnie says:

    3 questions please:

    (1) I have only revolving and installment debt — no mortgage or auto loans. Would it hurt or help if I got them, since I would be increasing my debt ratio, but diversifying my debt types?

    (2) Does the “High Credit” affect the score if I pay down in full every month? I never go near the limit on my cards, and I wonder if that is a bad thing? Should I charge more on one card to get higher rather than spreading it across all 3 cards?

    (3) I have a high score, but my credit card company never increases my limit — even after not missing any payments for 15 years! How do I improve my debt ratio without asking them for increases? Thank you very much!
    Reply

    EFX Moderator, EM says:
    January 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm (Edit)

    Ronnie, these are all great questions. You’re right that it’s important to have diversified types of debt, but I wouldn’t finance a home or car just to diversity your debt types. It’s important to only open accounts that you need and not to open too many.

    It’s a good thing that your balance doesn’t come close to your credit limit. High outstanding debt could negatively impact your score, even if it’s paid in full every month. You won’t know when the lender is reporting the information to the credit reporting agencies, so they could report a high balance instead of the paid off balance.

    It’s great that you’ve had a credit card open for 15 years. This improves your length of credit history, which is factored in your credit score. If you want to improve your debt ratio without asking your credit card company for a limit increase, you’ll need to pay more of the debt.

    Here are more strategies.

    Thanks for posting.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Ronnie, these are all great questions. You’re right that it’s important to have diversified types of debt, but I wouldn’t finance a home or car just to diversity your debt types. It’s important to only open accounts that you need and not to open too many.

      It’s a good thing that your balance doesn’t come close to your credit limit. High outstanding debt could negatively impact your score, even if it’s paid in full every month. You won’t know when the lender is reporting the information to the credit reporting agencies, so they could report a high balance instead of the paid off balance.

      It’s great that you’ve had a credit card open for 15 years. This improves your length of credit history, which is factored in your credit score. If you want to improve your debt ratio without asking your credit card company for a limit increase, you’ll need to pay more of the debt.

      Here are more strategies.

      Thanks for posting.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I have noticed not all the accounts I have had in my lifetime are reported on my Equifax credit report like they are on TransUnion and Experian. Also there is no payment history showing at all for the accounts that do show up. As a result, my score with Equifax is significantly lower than the other two agencies. What can I do to correct this?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      First of all, it’s great that you’re checking your credit report from all three of the credit reporting agencies. As you’ve noticed, there can be differences between them. It happens because lenders decide which credit reporting agencies to report to. It sounds like some of your lenders did not report your credit file to Equifax. Because of that, Equifax doesn’t have the information on your credit history and is calculating your credit score based off of the information you do have on file. Thank you so much for bringing up this point. Thanks for posting.

  27. Jules says:

    I have a signature loan, small car loan and a credit card account. They are all 3 within the same ending balance, perhaps $200 difference between the car loan and the credit card. I am looking at paying off one of these loans. Which loan payoff would increase my credit score the most?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Jules, it’s hard to know how paying off one debt over another will impact your credit score since each credit report is unique and is calculated based on many factors. I recommend reviewing this detailed list of how your credit score is calculated and review your credit report to see what makes the most sense. Another idea is to also consider the different interest rates on each account. Paying down a higher interest account will save you money in interest. Thank you for posting. Please come back and let us know which you decided to pay in full, and congratulations!

  28. James K. Sharpe says:

    I do not use credit cards. I use debit cards and pay cash for everything. The only time I use credit is for a car loan which I pay off as soon as possible. The last one was paid off in January 2012. I just got turned down by Tampa Electric Company to have the electricity turned on for my new residence in Tampa, FL. If I don’t use credit cards, how the hell am I going to get electricty? I have paid my electric and gas bills in New Jersey and have never been late in 13 years. This policy SUCKS!!!

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      James, I’m sorry to hear about your troubles with the electric company. When a new customer has a poor or limited credit history, many will offer service with a deposit on the account. I’d recommend talking with the electric company to come up with another plan. If you pay on-time and in full, they’ll want to have you as a customer.

      If you were interested in building a credit history, you can review this blog for more information on how to do it right from the beginning: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/building-a-strong-credit-report-from-the-beginning/

      Thanks for posting.

  29. Mary says:

    whats the sense in paying for your credit score if it is not used half the time?

  30. NeedInsight says:

    Experian has an incorrect account on file for me. It says that I opened an account back in 1967. . .uh I wasn’t born until 1975! Yes I have a higher score with them due to this incorrect info, but I want to do the right thing here. Also I do not want to be accused of fraud plus I hope that someone isn’t “me” out there. Ugh. Should I initiate a dispute? Would doing so put a yellow flag on me? Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Oh no! It sounds like you might be a victim of identity theft. You’re right that it’s best to have an accurate credit report. You’re not really sure how the fraudulent information is affecting your credit score and it could impact your ability to open credit accounts later. Here’s information on how to file a dispute on your credit report. I recommend providing proof that this isn’t your account, and in your case a copy of your birth certificate might do the trick. Be sure that there aren’t any other fraudulent entries in your credit report as well and review your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies as well. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  31. Joann says:

    I have an account in collection status and I would like to pay it off but keep it off my record as well. What steps do I need to take? Should I contact consumer and make a payoff deal ? Not sure please help.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Joann, It’s up to the lender or collection company what information they report to the credit reporting agencies. This information should be accurate and timely. If you are going to payoff a debt, be sure to receive a letter confirming the payment from the lender that way you have proof that you are paid in full. Thanks for posting.

  32. Jeramie says:

    Joann, Pay it off infull if possible. Settling will bring your account balance to $0 but it will stay on your credit file and be updated to “Account paid for less than full balance”. In my mind that doesn’t look to to lenders. Its basically saying they didn’t get all monies owed from you and it stays on your credit and reflects as a negative account. If you pay it in full they will be more willing to remove it from your credit report. Your score will go up a little because of the $0 balance but it will go up more if paid in full and removed. One less collection account on file.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Jeramie, you’re right that “paid as agreed” is more attractive to lenders looking at your credit report. Thanks so much for joining in on the conversation. Your insight is appreciated.

  33. Jeramie says:

    I had a judgement for $800 from a utility company from the early 2000′s. I paid it off in full and it was removed from my report yet my score hasn’t changed. How is that possible?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Jeramie, great question. I’m glad to hear that you were able to pay off your debts. You mentioned that it was originally reported in the early 2000s. The longer an item is on your credit report, the less impact it has on your score. Some negative items are no longer calculated in your score after 7 years. Click here to learn more about how long negative information is on your credit report. Thanks for posting.

  34. Frank says:

    I just successfully removed two negative items off my report due to incorrect information that was reported. One was a Tax Lien that was 9.5 years old and another a collection from of all places, the Library. How soon should my score reflect the changes and how much should I expect it to improve.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Frank, it’s hard to know how your credit score will be impacted since the score is based off of calculations of many factors in your credit report. Be sure to pull your credit report to know that the inaccurate information was successfully removed. We have a blog with five tips to boost your creditworthiness, which will hopefully help. Thanks for posting.

      • Frank says:

        I did receive confirmation from all 3 agencies that the items have been deleted and I confirmed by pulling my annual credit report. Equifax says a maximum of 10 days for my score to update but I have found that its impossible to talk to anyone at Experian.

  35. Refi Regret says:

    I just checked my credit score because I was denied a credit offer. I could not believe it because I had just paid off a rather large ($31K) balance on another card and the interest on the new offer was lower. I checked my report and learned that I have a lower score than I thought because when I refinanced my mortgage last March (with a 804 score), the appraisal value of my house dropped and now my mortgage is at 95% of the maximum credit limit (this means I have 25% equity in my house). Also, my mortgage is not a line of credit. It is a fixed rate 15 year mortgage. The only other “negative” is a $39.00 collection in 2010 for a physician group where the insurance company did not pay my physician. I paid it and then got reimbursed from my insurance. That is not a typo. It was thirty nine dollars. That is it. All other card balances are $0 or under 50%. Can the refi and drop in appraised value on my condo really screw up my credit that bad? Shouldn’t the banks tell people not to refinance if this is what will happen?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Great questions. Because credit scores are based off of every item on your credit report, you’re right to look at the big picture here. Each one of the items you listed is playing a role in your score.

      One late payment can have a pretty big impact on your credit score regardless of the payment amount. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit report, and late payments can stay on your report for 7 years.

      Another important part of your credit report is your balance to limit ratio. Using only half of your credit limit might sound good to you, but most lenders are looking for borrowers who use 30% of their available limit. The less you use, the better, because it shows that you’re not over-extended on debt.

      As for refinancing your mortgage, because you’re at 95% of the maximum credit limit from the changed appraisal value, that’s probably having an impact on your debt ratio. The higher debt could make your credit history look riskier.

      Click here to learn more ways to improve your credit score and your creditworthiness. Thanks for posting.

  36. Jeramie says:

    Um ok, so my posts have been deleted? Why?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Jeramie, sorry about that. It wasn’t deleted, but we do moderate comments to make sure they are within our commenting guidelines (listed below) so there can be a delay in posting them to the site. I actually just posted a response to your comment.

  37. ms.bush says:

    I paid some things off on my credit why is it still listed under negative accounts and my credit score hasn’t changed at all.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Congratulations on paying off some of your debt. Living debt-free is a great goal. Chances are it’s still showing under negative because late payments and past due accounts can stay on your account for 7 years generally. The good news is that paying off the debt is positive information, which can stay on your credit file forever. Click here to read more about how long negative items can stay on your credit report. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  38. kris says:

    i’ve been denied several apartments in the last month based upon a low credit score, so i checked out my credit scores to find that i have two fair postings and one good. through equifax, they have it posted that i have a credit limit of $180,000 and a monthly payment of just under $2000. the other two credit places do not have these posted. i don’t pay $2000 worth in loans/mortgages/credit card payments. it’s only $418. why would this be? can i fix this problem?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Kris, it’s great that you’re looking at your credit report. It can have a big impact on your creditworthiness as viewed by lenders, as you’re finding out. The information on your credit file is given to the credit reporting agencies from the lender directly. It sounds like your lender could be reporting inaccurate information. It could be a simple error on their part. You can file a dispute directly with the credit reporting agencies or talk to your lender about the inaccurate information. It’s important that your credit report be accurate, so I recommend working on resolving this to improve your creditworthiness. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  39. Dave says:

    I filed chp 7 bankruptcy 6 years ago and have rebuilt my credit with only debt obligations of a 3 year old auto loan and one credit card. Each month my credit score drops by 5 points after auto loan reports to the credit bureau with payments made on time and lower balance. After my credit card company reports to bureaus a week later my credit score goes back up by 4-7 points reflecting payments made on time and balance reduced. I contacted Equifax and their explanation for the drop in my credit score at the first of the month was that I had two creditors reporting each month that my debt had been discharged by my bankruptcy. None of my other creditors in the bankruptcy have continued to report each month on my accounts since my bankruptcy in early 2007. I have contacted the two creditors and they say their policy is to report my account monthly as being discharged in bankruptcy until at least 7 years has passed from discharge. Why should a creditor reporting the same account status since bankruptcy discharge in 2007 effect my credit score?

  40. Robin says:

    any chance lowering the your credit limit on cards you have history with is better than closing out accounts?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Robin, great question. Lowering your credit limit will change the amount of available credit you have. Part of your credit score is based on the amounts you owe and the available credit balances you have. By lowering your limit, you’ll change this calculation and perhaps lower your score. Instead, you could pay down your debt. Paying down your credit card balance could help your credit score. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  41. Monika says:

    I looked up my Fico Score 3 Weeks ago! TU 659 EQ 602! How can it be that my Scores on Equifax can be so much different all under 600? Please explain! I ordered my EQ advantage plan to monitor my Scores but it seems that Equifax give out wrong numbers!

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Monika, that’s a really great question. Credit scores are calculated using the data from your credit report. Since lenders chose what CRAs to report to, your credit file could be different between the three major CRAs. We have more information on how your credit score is calculated. Be sure to review the credit file from each CRA to make sure the information is accurate. If you notice anything incorrect, you can file a dispute. Thanks for posting.

  42. Anonymous says:

    A simple question::::–i have been building up my credit score, and what i am wondering is i have credit cards and 2 of them are close to max. Would my score benefit more if i pay off just one of them or should i pay half of each one. Which should i do to lower my credit utilization……thank you

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Great question. It’s hard to know for sure how your credit score will be affected since every credit report is unique. Part of your credit score is based on how much debt you owe and how much available credit you have. Paying down your credit card debt helps to improve your credit score, but which you pay off first shouldn’t affect your credit score too much. You could focus your efforts on repaying the credit card with the highest interest rate first to save on interest charges. I wish you the best in your debt repayments. Please come back and let us know how it’s going. Thanks.

  43. Patrick says:

    Since lenders use their own credit score calculations and are often a lower number than the 3 beureas report…why in the &^##&^! should ANYONE even bother to monitor their own credit score?
    The system is fixed against you!!

  44. Cindy Sue says:

    We have four closed accounts, one is just paid and three we still owe, they are ALL showing as closed. We are noticing that as we pay them down or off, our score is going up. What is going to happen to our score once all of our closed accounts are paid in full? Will our score start to fall slowly over time, or will it go down fast, and perhaps plummet at one time?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Cindy Sue, Congratulations on paying off so much of your debt. You’re right that you should be seeing your score go up as you pay down your debt. It’s because your balance to available credit ratio is improving, and that is part of the calculation of your credit score. Another part of your credit score calculation is the length of your credit history. As you close accounts, that will change the length of open accounts you have available. A long credit history can improve your score. We have more information about how paying down your debt can help your credit score.

      What kinds of accounts are these? If they’re credit cards, you may not need to close them and could instead keep them open in case of an emergency. If there isn’t a balance, you’d have a good balance to credit limit ratio and a longer credit history.

      It’s hard to know how your credit score will be directly affected since it’s a calculation of a lot of factors in your credit file. The good news, though, is that all of the on-time and in-full payments you are making could stay as positive items on your credit file forever.

  45. John P says:

    For a long time I’ve been paying cash for everything, and hold only three low limit credit cards for the past 2 years. For ten years, I had a private mortgage which I paid on time as agreed. I now hold a reverse mortgage that doesn’t report to the agencies. So, it appears as if I have only short term minimum credit How can I get the mortgage information into the
    system so as to show a longer credit history?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      John P, it sounds like you are managing your finances really well, which is great news. As for your credit file, it’s compiled of information sent by the lenders. The lender would need to supply information about your reverse mortgage for it to be reported. The good news is that you have a long history of on-time payments, it sounds like, and that’s great news for your credit file. Here’s some more information on how to improve your credit score and creditworthiness. Most of it you have already done, but I hope some of the other tips can help you maintain your credit score.

  46. Jose says:

    I just signed up as I could no longer receive reports from freecreditreport.com. As I got all negative info off my experian report there were no other accounts listed for them to report . So I signed up for equifax to help get my scores. My score with equifax from freecreditreport.com was higher and I had 2 negative items listed. Got those deleted and check equifax and noticed it is now lower. I have one cc in good standing with 8 years history and another just opened 3 months ago which also in good standing. I dont understand how it would be lower now after deleting those negative items? Also my transunion score was perfect with freecreditreport.com and now it is not even available with this site . Are these scores really accurate? Am I missing anything ?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Jose, A lot goes into calculating your score, such as credit history and your balance to available credit limit ratio. Since you recently opened a credit card, you changed the average length of your credit history and added a credit inquiry. These two factors also impact your score. Click here for more information about how your score is calculated. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  47. Gary G says:

    Last year we converted our 30 year mortgage to a 15 year mortgage. I have always heard that doing so is a GOOD thing. However we feel that our credit score has actually gone down because our debt to income ratio has change due to the increase in monthly payments. Is this supposed to happen?

    We are now considering going back to a 30 year mortgage to reduce our monthly obligation but then continuing to pay as though it were a 15 year mortgage. Unless of course this is something that would be detrimental to my credit again…. I don’t know if it would be or not.

    Any information MORE about this issue would be greatly appreciated.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Gary, You’re right that your debt to income ratio is a factor in your credit score, and that could have changed when you converted your mortgage. Converting back could change that ratio, but it could also come with fees and there may be an early pay-off penalty. The costs of doing it could outweigh the credit score benefits. You might want to discuss this with a qualified mortgage officer before proceeding to make sure you’re making the right choice for your family. Here’s more information on how paying off your debt could improve your credit score: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/debt-reduction-why-paying-down-your-credit-card-debt-helps-your-credit-score/ Thanks for posting and good luck.

  48. Joyce says:

    I am frustrated. I pay all of our bills for my husband and I. We have 0 late payments on anything in at least 20 years. We pay more than owed on credit cards every month and outside our mortgage, we only have $17,000.00 in debt and that includes our vehicle. Today, I checked our credit scores. My husband’s is 808. Mine is 751. That is just not right. We have the same bills. We have been married 41 years. I feel it is discrimination. I have worked hard to maintain a good credit score. To me, 751 is not good enough.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Joyce. The credit scores of both you and your husband put you in a good position when applying for credit or loans from lenders. Have you reviewed your credit report along with your credit score? Maybe there’s inaccurate information that’s misrepresenting your score. You could also consider these tips on increasing your creditworthiness and score. I hope this helps and best of luck to you both.

  49. Kenneth Scott says:

    If I see a good credit reported on one of the reports and not on the other two. Does my creditor have to do this or can I notify the other two credit reports?

  50. Joey Lacey says:

    Hello my wife open an installment loan back in june 2012 for 2800. This month she had a balance of 1540 and she paid it off because we are trying to buy a house and didnt want her debt ratio to be too high was this a good idea

  51. Lori says:

    I had my score effected by a financing company sending my file to 13 lenders without my knowledge. How do I get my score back up?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Lori, Some companies will send your application out to many lenders trying to find you the best deal. It sounds like you learned the hard way to ask how many they’re going to contact before proceeding. The good news is that credit inquiries stay on your credit report for 1-2 years generally. Interest rate shopping may not hurt your credit score if you’re requesting the same amount and in a short period of time. Click here for more information on how interest rate shopping could affect your credit score. I hope this helps.

  52. Cecil says:

    I have reluctantly had the services of Equifax for the past five years and there are two distinct features I’ve noticed. One that Equifax acts more favorably towards Creditors, collection agencies, banks, credit card companies or any institutions that are not consumers. Two Equifax is very anti consumers. I said two and perhaps both sound the same. Hower, if I listed a third feature it would be exactly the same. Some how it puzzeling as to why so much credibility is given to the three Credit Bureaus because the all serve the business in a truly bias way. Something needs to be done to rectify this situation because the agencies are funded by banks, credit card companies etc. Hence they cannot and will serve consumers without prejudice.

  53. Frank says:

    I check my credit score every few weeks and today I saw that my score had been reduced from 787 to 752. I checked the report. There are no negative information listings. We have 10 credit cards with a balance of which is 20% of the credit limit and a car loan that is half paid off. The big change on the report is that our credit limit on mortgage was changed from $580,000, the original home price to $460,617, the exact amount (to the penny) we refinanced in October 2011. That meant that the $436,000 we owe went from 85% of the credit limit to 95%. Why would the credit report reflect the refinanced amount instead of the price (after all we put 20% down on the home) and why would the mortgage value so affect our credit score? Note that the appraisal value of our home was $610,000 and it is noted on Zillow.com as worth $603,000. The refinanced amount is nowhere near the value of our home.

  54. md says:

    Why is the credit score (s) here different from the one reported to my walmart credit account montly. The walmart fico report is telling me my score is 628 and here its significantly less. Why?

  55. Anonymous says:

    I filed bankruptcy 1 year ago, doing that time I was going through a mortgageg modification. The modification did come thru, and I have been making my payments on time, however they refuse to report the account because they claim it was in the bankruptcy, however I still have this mortgage account. Is there a way to get them to report it?

  56. Ramin says:

    I recently checked my credit score which is 689 which is good but, is there any way to improve it so fast during 6 months like up to 700? thank you

  57. Jeff says:

    I would like to know why my credit score drops extensively if 1 credit card payment was missed, yet when I won a court case against my reported foreclosure and it was removed from the report, my report didnt reflect any change?

  58. Anonymous says:

    My credit score is 695. I have $34,500 in available credit with a balance of $0. I have no debt of any kind, I make $90,000 a year + $12K in investment income and I own my car. I also have $500K in investments and $200K in 401ks. But somehow I am a bigger credit risk than someone with $20K in CC debt, a $300K mortgage, two car payments, and the same salary? I’m talking about my friend with all of those things and a credit score of 800+ even though my ability to pay back a loan is 100 times greater. I think I see what’s wrong with our entire financial system now and why we had a collapse. It’s preposterous. I am the absolute lowest credit risk on the planet. If Moody’s ranked me, i would be AAA+.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      It sounds like you are financially stable, but a credit report is separate from your income and investments. It measures how well you use credit made available to you by lenders. When lenders look at your credit report, they want to know how you have handled your financial responsibilities in the past. By building a rich credit report over many years, you may be able to establish yourself as a safe borrower to lenders. Without this history, lenders could feel they are taking a risk. It’s hard to compare your situation to your friend’s though, since each credit report is different. I hope this helps.

  59. Josh says:

    One thing I would like to know Moderator is why doesn’t your yearly salary Get put into your credit report? I make $135,000 a year and that should improve my score? But because I haven’t used credit in 2 years I have a low credit score and can’t even finance a $4,000 car. How much you make is a HUGE indicator whether or not if I will pay a measly 4,000 back! The system is broke and we all need to push to have it fixed! Me myself would much rather loan $ to someone who makes good $. That is just common sense!

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Josh, great question. Your credit report shows how you use available credit—it’s not a measure of your income status. Thanks for posting.

  60. Josh says:

    I also don’t think it is fare that 1 little mess up or 1 small moment in your life can quickly drop your score 200 points in 1 month. But when you do good and pay on time it takes a year or longer to go up just a fraction of that! The system should not work like that, if you can go down that fast you should be able to go back up that fast. But then the rich wouldn’t get richer and that wouldn’t be fair those rich people are so special and so much better then us, NOT!

  61. Josh says:

    There needs to be a clear set of rules put in place and instructions on exactly what a person needs to do to improve they’re score. Because the impact it has on or lives is extreme! Because how it sits now you get punished for doing the right thing. For instance let’s say you have credit cards and a house and a car loan and you loose your job and can’t find a job for a year so you don’t pay anything because you can’t and everything gets charged off and is on your credit report. then you get a job and decide to do the right thing and pay all the money back. You get punished and your credit goes down another 100 points and all them charge offs stay on your report for another 7 years from when the payment posts! That is not logical and should be against the law! We the people need to speak out about this and force the Government to put laws I’m place to protect us from things like this!

  62. Darcy says:

    I’m a little discouraged by the credit scoring system. I have been tracking my credit score through Transunion AND am working with a credit improvement agency. My TU score has gone up from the 500’s to mid 600’s and when I pull all 3 scores through TU, all of them are now above 600. So, I went to a mortgage broker to inquire about buying a home since my scores are above the 620’s and was told that my TU score was 549 and NOT 631. How can there be an almost 80 point difference? I was told that there were different scoring matrixes. If this is so, what good does having a score do me? If you can pick and choose how you want to score me then which score is the ACTUAL, CORRECT SCORE? Frustrating! My dreams of buying a house were smashed and I was utterly embarrassed.

  63. EFX Moderator, EM says:

    Darcy, I’m sorry to hear of your frustrations. Lenders have the option of using a scoring model that best fits their purposes. They weigh aspects of your credit report differently and it can cause your score to be different. Here is more information on why your credit score could be different from your Equifax score: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/why-is-the-credit-score-my-lender-calculated-different-from-my-equifax-score/ I hope this helps.

  64. Mason Dixson says:

    Credit scores are a joke. They do not determine the creditworthiness of a borrower. Case in point. I ran a credit report on a individual and their score was 750. They only had one account with a $700.00 high credit and no balance. The account was only 2 years old.

    I had another individual who had 7 credit card accounts (the newest 2 years old) the oldest 7 years old. Two mortgage accounts 10 years old. No BK’s,foreclosures or other serious derogs. All accounts were current and never had a late pay. Her only derogs were several small medical collections over 4 years old and two large medical collections that the collection agency kept updating and changing the dollar amount by 1 dollar, thus one collection became several. The credit bureau “verified” these updates every time. The only way to get them removed was to file suit in the city where the collection agencies are located, thus incurring enormous expense. Her credit score was a 625.

    Now who do you think is less likely to default?

    The woman with a 625 couldn’t refinance her home an save $500.00 per month.

    The kid with the 750 got 0 percent APR on a new car.

    The time has come to ban credit scoring altogether. It is nothing more than a scam.

    • Mason Dixson says:

      Oh and this women’s account balances were around 60% of her high credit with 3 cards with no balance at all.

  65. Jabophi says:

    According to Equifax my credit score is 804 but when I recently applied for a loan they said it was 704. I was baffled and the explanation I got from the bank is that my “consumer” credit score was 804 but my “financial” credit score was 704. What criteria makes up a “financial” credit score?

  66. Doug says:

    Here’s the problem. If you have enough cash to live well on, own your homes outright, pay off your credit card bills in full each month, and have kept your credit limits at a reasonable amount, you will find your credit rating weak. Why? Because you have no debt, and your assets are never a part of this evaluation. We traded in two very old credit cards last year for ones (from the same bank) that gave us more flexible benefits, and out credit scores took a dive, even with our 45 year credit history with no dings. Then we were stupid enough to let a zero balance home equity line lapse because we no longer need it. Another hit to the score. We are fortunate to be able to deal with a private bank, so credit access at the best rates is not a problem. But there are times when our credit is being checked (when we change cellphone plans, buy a new car (for cash), etc., and we get very strange looks when they see a score that has deteriorated greatly in a short time. The credit scores only work if you love to be in debt and have lots of different credit sources. Cash – well, that’s meaningless.

  67. Raymond says:

    Why is the Equifax credit score different from the score a creditor such as a Mortgage Company and other creditor pull. For example the Equifax Score I pull on line was 35 pt. greater than the the score the Creditor pull the score the creditor pulled was 35 pts less than the one I pulled on line.Thank you for a response

  68. Steve says:

    I had a tax lien filed in Error for 3 months that shows on 2 of my 3 reports in 2009. I was able to get it removed from Equifax but TU and Experian both have it. as a result my FICO score is 790, 730, 723.

    I have tried to get it removed from TU and Experian but they just won’t remove them. And as you know the 730 is the score the banks take for a loan. Any ideas how I can deal with this rather then waiting 7 years for it to go away??

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:

      Thanks for the question. You may want to consider filing a dispute with those credit reporting agencies. It might help to include any paper documentation that you have, such as a correction from the tax assessor or your current Equifax credit report. Best of luck.

  69. Anonymous says:

    how does paying only the minimum amount on credit cards and therefore hardly reducing the principal balance affect the rating ???? I know it shows intent to pay but then more charges only increase the total balance due until card maxed out…. Do the credit card factor this in their rating number ??????

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:

      Good question. Your credit report does not indicate whether you’re making your payments in full or only the minimum payments. But by making minimum payments, you’ll end up paying more in interest over time. Click here for more information. Hope this helps.

  70. Anonymous says:

    I just paid my vehicle loan off and had no other changers. My score dropped 21 points. I paid it off thinking my score would go up. I also just bought a house. How does the mortgage effect your score. I can’t seem to break the 700 mark.

  71. Gene says:

    I have been monitoring my credit score for the last 4 years and have been really responsible about paying debt on time. My FICO score recently reached 808. I received a nice tax refund and paid off all my credit card debt of about $4000 in total. A few weeks later I received a noticed from Score Watch that my FICO score dropped down to 799. Is this normal, as I thought my score would go up higher for paying off debt as promised? Instead it dropped.

  72. darrell says:

    I pay all of my payment on time and yet my score will not go up any.I have 2 credit cards 2 auto payment 3 bank loans all pay on time so why wont my scorego up above 525

  73. Mike C. says:

    Question for EFX Moderator. I have been a long time Equifax member. I currently have a high credit score and am considering paying of my mortgage the which appears to make up 60% of my credit score. By doing this will it drastically reduce my 3 scores?

  74. C. Autery says:

    Question: I’m getting dinged (ONLY DINGS) on my credit score for:

    You’ve opened an account recently.
    You’ve opened credit cards recently.

    Both of these dings are for a single account (my NEWEST), opened over 2.5 YEARS ago. My oldest account in from Jan 1986, and my AVERAGE age shows 11.8 years… which seems to be skewed low, as the mathematical avg is 13-14 years.

    Just how long am I gonna get punished for opening a new credit card account. Seems kind of ridiculous to me.

    • Zero credit score guy says:

      Those dings are probably not affecting your score, the automated system just has to fill something in that box so those dings are informational only. You average credit history is lower than your calculation because more recent stuff is more relevant to your score, like your new credit card.

  75. Ian says:

    I have one active account on my credit score. What will happen when I close that account.

  76. Peter says:

    American Express as my card of choice, balance due at the end of each month. My question is will an American Express card have the same effect on your credit as a traditional credit card ?

  77. G. Lewis says:

    It has been my experience that my credit score is higher as long as I carry a total of 1 percent balance of my available credit. example total available credit $1500.00 carrying a $15 balance.

    I tested it and paid my balance off and my score went down All cards at zero is not good.

  78. David says:

    from looking at the comments, there are a lot of good and bad suggestions.
    I had recently rebuilt my credit while trying to get a mortgage and did a LOT of research. Plus was lucky enough to talk to some very informative brokers.
    There are good steps and bad steps.

    have no more than 3-4 ACTIVE, credit lines (mortgage companies want 3), and by active the have to be in use. IDLE credit cards do not help. Banks do look at that and will count it against you.

    keep credit card balances around 20% of the credit line for the best credit scoring. It is actually stated on one of the credit berous websites, and I have seen it for my self in my own scores.

    Keep credit inquiries to a minimum. They remain on your report for 2 years. Applying for credit can cost you 5-15 points or sometimes more. One major mortgage company dropped mine by 15.

    Clean up ALL collection accounts. One collection cost me 170 points on experian. and NO mortgage company will offer a mortgage with a collection showing. And creditors prefer at least 6-12 months time span after the last collection is payed.

    to help fix credit start by cleaning up any negative info on your report. Then start with ONE secured credit card, and start small. (it will take about 6 months to have a full positive effect on your score.) And remember the 20% balance rule. If you have a $200 limit, keep the balance around $40. Keeping a balance shows you can handle credit, while a zero or maxed balance says you can’t in the banks eyes.
    After 6 months of the first card, then get another small card or a small loan with a co-signer if possible.

    I hope this helps others, as it helped me. I took my scores that ranged from 520-580, and put them up to a range of 680-750 (minimum mortgage score is a 640)

  79. lal says:

    Why is the credit score(s) that I purchase from the credit reporting agencies different from the one that my bank received when I refinanced? Any time I apply for any type of loan, this discrepancy happens. How can I gain access to the same credit score as my bank?

  80. Del says:

    I have a score of “Good” for Length of Credit History (16 yrs). What are the requirements for “Very Good” and “Excellent”?

  81. Del says:

    If I have multiple credit cards and only carry a balance on 3 (5% – 20% each), do the cards that have no (zero) balance hurt my score?

  82. Wil Smith says:

    I think it it totally unfair that credit reporting agencies penalize you when someone inquires about your credit. It’s like a parent asking a teacher to tell them how thier child is doing in school and the teacher reducing the grades because the parent wants to know the status of their child.There should be a law against this practice. after all you the reporting agencies are the keepers of the grades how else will anyone know how we the consumer is doing except they ask.

    • J.D. says:

      It’s basically because when you apply for credit, a lot of the inquiries will be for accounts that don’t necessarily show up on the report, so because the agencies don’t know if the account was opened, they have to use a toned down version of new credit to make sure if you did open accounts, the credit score will reflect at least a part of it.

  83. Ivan says:

    Some of my former creditors still “report” every month that my account was discharged in bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was discharged nearly 3 years ago. I believe this is negatively affecting my score, since it looks like it has been only one month since a “negative report” was made. How can I correct this?

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:

      Ivan, good question. There are set time frames for how long negative information remains on a credit report. Click here for a rundown on how long certain types of credit information can remain on your credit history.

  84. Sam says:

    in my Equifax Credit Watch account where can I see my Credit Score.. is it in the Report?

  85. Cgrattan says:

    I have a question and would like some feed back. I am in the process of cleaning up my three credit reports for the first time ever. I have an old Verizon bill that has $1,000+ balance on it because it was not paid by the bookkeeper when I shut down my business. I had myself and 4 employees that I paid cell phones for, and the last month never got paid. None the less my responsibility. My question is, since it is the oldest acct still showing in all 3 bureaus, I want to keep it from falling off like everything else did (I eliminated all credit balances and closed all my accounts 15 years ago thinking I would never need credit again…boy was I wrong!. I have very little credit history left!! The status of the acct is closed, charged off, collections, alternative payment arrangements made. I never knew about this bill and have not been contacted by or talked to anybody regarding this. Long story short, I want to get it paid off, the question I have for you is, how to do it that helps my credit score most? Should I just contact them and have it paid in full immediately? Negotiate a paid settlement? Make payments to show the credit bureau’s I’m capable? I don’t want to make a decision here that will negatively effect me any more than a stupid oversight already has!! Help!!

  86. Pjana says:

    My credit score was 751 in april and it dropped to 686 in July. I have paid my credit cards in full and car loan on time every month. I have not applied for any new credit and no hard inquiries in the past 3 months . Can you pls let me know why the score has dropped this much?

  87. Angie po says:

    Hello EFX moderator I am trying to build my credit score p to buy a house by next year I have filed bankruptcy and it was discharged sept 2012 lender said i have to wait 2 years so I’m tryn to build my score in July my scores were 621,642,619 now sept there 640 599,596 maybe the credit card that I have almost reaced it’s limit which is 1000 and I reaced 722 for te month of aug since then I paid down but have 4 inquiry’s in a year how do I raise my scores by march 2014 help please!!

  88. pls help says:

    hello pls help my credit score was 705 and i just checked it on my capitalone credit alert and it went down 10 points but i didnt apply for anything or have any banks check it or nothing i want to buy my house by end of may net yr but if my credt score is say 710 or close to 750 can i get a mortage without a cosigner? and also my husbands score is only around 5 but we will have the 5% down which is 8500 im scared as i dont want to end up on the streets because this has happened last yr pls help me
    also if i have my credit cards payed off and dont use them will that help my score go up

  89. ErnieSC says:

    Does anyone know how Equifax determines your Debt/Income Ratio and use it to affect your credit score?
    I retired from a large corporation at 49. I was making a 6 figure income and had a credit score of 800+.
    I am now retired, aged 66 and have a number of car loans which are always paid on time.
    I own a small business which is managed by someone else.
    My debts are paid on time even though some of the cars are expensive and monthly payments are significant. I always finance the entire purchase because I have been with my credit union for 48 years and get an unbelievably low interest rate.
    Since I’m able to pay all my bills on time how do they determine that my debt/income is too high? Do they have access to my Tax Returns?

  90. EFX Moderator, KB says:

    ErnieSC, it’s great that you are aware and paying attention to your credit. You’re right that debt-to-income is important when calculating your credit score. Other factors that contribute to your score are payment history, available balance, length of credit history, opening new accounts, and types of credit. All of this information is used together to calculate your score. Here’s more information on how your credit score is calculated: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/debt-reduction-why-paying-down-your-credit-card-debt-helps-your-credit-score/

  91. Narendra Grover says:

    I had to file personal proposal in BC, after losses in business,in November 2009. I was supposed to clear it in 5 years, but I repaid all outstanding balance in in July 2012.
    When my credit scoring will be positive? I am already having 2 credit cards and paying on time. Now I have moved to Alberta for last more than a year.

  92. Maria MacKinnon says:

    When I input info it asked if I had accounts with banks I have never heard of and then when I said none of these it kicked me out and asks me to fax my dispute. all of my credit cards were paid off but I was denied credit because it said my balances were too high–what gives?

  93. May Liao says:

    Is it better to always pay your bill in full and have a 0 balance each month or have a balance that’s less than 30% of your total credit limit?

  94. Stephen says:

    My credit score just dropped over 58 points over night, despite no changes to my account? I spoke to an agent who said they have upgraded some systems. Basically all my hard work building credit over the past 6 months has been wiped out through no fault of my own.

    How is this fair?

  95. Jim says:

    If you have a debt in another EU country does this affect your existing credit score in case you want to buy a house in UK.

  96. Anonymous says:

    my Equifax credit score is 552 and I am trying to rent a car but they are talking about doing a soft credit check what are they looking for

  97. Arthur E. says:

    I intended to purchase an automobile, earlier this year.

    I went to one dealer, found a car that I liked, and applied for a loan with that dealer. I only applied for one loan, at one dealer, but I recently found out that I got nailed with 19 inquiries on my credit report! This dealer did not present to me an acceptable loan package, so I decided to look for another vehicle.

    A few weeks later, I few to another dealer, and found another car that I liked, and I applied for a long with that dealer. Again, I applied for only one loan, at only one dealer. In my mind, this inquiry might have counted as my second request for credit, but I understand that since it was within a couple of weeks, it might even been counted as a single request. However, I found out recent that I got nailed with yet another 9 inquires on my credit report!

    This just stupefies me! I asked for one loan, on two cars. Didn’t like the first loan package, and looked for another loan. So, maybe that qualifies as two loans, on two cars.

    But 28 inquiries? Surely this is not correct.

  98. Sean says:

    I have not lived in Canada for 10 years, I have a CC that I just paid off but have no applied for credit in 10-15 years. How does that affect my rating and history if I return?

  99. Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    Just wondering, ,my husbands credit score/ file is very low. He has 2 loans which is paid weekly, and have not missed a payment in 2 years in which we have had them. There is no defaults, no late payments, no anything on his file except for enquires.
    Why would his credit be so low when there is nothing but enquires on his file?

    Thanks

  100. Jesse says:

    My question:

    If my request for a credit line increase is declined by a credit card company, is this decline information reported to the the three credit monitoring agencies and will it affect my credit rating?

    If a declined increase in my credit line will be reported to the credit monitoring agencies, shouldn’t this fact about reporting be provided to the me the consumer before the credit increase is processed? This especially if the increased credit line is offered (not solicited) by the card company’s agent?

  101. Alberta Market Researcher says:

    Informative post.


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