FICO - Your Credit Score

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Because our society is so computer-driven, you're probably not surprised to hear that your ability to repay your mortgage loan boils down to one number. This score is built by credit reporting agencies. They use the payment history from all of your loans: mortgages, car/motorcycle/boat loans, credit cards, and others.

All three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a credit score. The original FICO was developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Experian uses this model and calls its score FICO. Equifax's model, based on FICO, is called BEACON, while TransUnion, which also uses a slightly modified FICO, calls its score EMPIRICA. While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, each agency uses the following to determine your credit score:

  • Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Late Payments - Do you have any payments later than 30 days?
  • Credit Card Balances - How many accounts do you hold? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which may vary slightly from one agency to another. FICO scores range from 300 to 850. Higher is always better. Most folks getting a mortgage in the current environment score 620 or above.

Not just for qualifying

Credit scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Improving your score

What can you do to raise your FICO score? Very little in the short term. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the score is based on your lifelong credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must, of course, remove any incorrect reporting on your credit report, which is the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

How do I find out my FICO score?

To raise your score, you've got to have the reports that the agencies use to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac, the company that invented the first FICO score, offers FICO scores on myFICO.com. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO score from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and online tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a free credit report every year from the three major agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting it is quick and very inexpensive.

Armed with this info, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about your credit score? Call us: 866-300-1550.

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