Understanding your credit scores and their functions
Your credit scores are a determining factor in whether or not you qualify for a credit line or loan. But do you understand what a credit score is and how it is created?
By better understanding credit scores in general, you can better monitor and manage your own credit. To assist you, we have provided you with valuable resources and information.
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What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and how does it affect me?
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies such as Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. There are many types of consumer reporting agencies, including credit bureaus and specialty agencies (such as agencies that sell information about check writing histories, medical records, and rental history records). You must be told if information in your file has been used against you. Anyone who uses a credit report or another type of consumer report to deny your application for credit, insurance, or employment - or to take another adverse action against you - must tell you, and must give you the name, address, and phone number of the agency that provided the information. >> Learn more
What are credit scores and why are they so important?
A credit score is a three-digit number that represents your total credit picture based on information contained in your credit files - including how respo nsible you have been paying your debts and bills, and the likelihood that you will meet your credit obligations. Your credit scores are based on many factors including your personal credit history, credit card accounts, and financial public records. Your scores are derived based on the credit information at the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Your credit score is important because it tells a potential lender what kind of credit risk you are, which is why it's important to know and understand all three of your scores. >> Learn more about your credit scores
What is a good credit score?
Credit scores typically range from 300 to 800 (depending on the scoring system), and your score could differ from bureau to bureau (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax), as creditors do not always report to all three. Typically, a good score is 720 or higher - meaning a lender will consider that person a low credit-risk in repaying a loan. You want the highest score possible to better secure a loan or a favorable interest rate. It is important to monitor your credit scores periodically. Checking your own scores will not lower your credit rating. >> Learn more about credit score ratings
Will my credit score be the same at each of the three primary credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax)?
Not necessarily. Your credit score at each of the bureaus can vary, sometimes considerably (e.g. around 100 points). This can make the difference between being approved or denied for a loan, job, or new credit card. You never know which score a lender is going to check. This is why it's important to know and understand your credit score and rating at each of the primary credit bureaus. If one of your scores is significantly different - either through error or omission of information - understanding the problem will enable you to address it directly with the bureaus (or bureaus) at hand. >> Learn more about the credit bureaus
Why should I monitor my credit scores?
Early signs of credit fraud and identity theft can often be spotted in your credit profile. The problem is that unless you check your credit information regularly, you may not be aware that someone opened a credit card in your name, or used your personal information to apply for a loan. That's why automatic monitoring of your credit files provides an ideal "early warning" system, immediately alerting you to new inquiries, just-opened accounts and certain information. By monitoring your credit files, you could find out about these types of changes quickly, and take action as necessary. >> Learn more about credit monitoring
What is identity theft, and how can reviewing my credit scores help prevent it?
Unexpected changes to your credit score and information can indicate identity theft or credit fraud. According to the FTC website: Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information like your name, Social Security number or credit card number without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. Once an identity thief gets a hold of your credit card information for example, they can open another card for their use, even changing the billing address so that you might not know for months that they're racking up charges. Understanding changes to your credit scores based on data at Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax can help you identify and guard against potential identity theft and fraud. Significant changes to your scores can indicate signs of fraud and theft. >> Learn more about identity theft
1 Daily monitoring will notify you of certain new inquiries and derogatory information, accounts, public records, or change of address that have been added to your credit reports as reported by one of the major credit reporting agencies. If no information has been added or changed, then you will receive a monthly notification stating that no information has changed within their credit file.
3 Score Tracker displays your VantageScore credit score. Lenders may use different scores and standards to evaluate a person's creditworthiness, so we cannot determine your qualification for a loan. Your score is calculated using a specific algorithm and is based on information from the files at Experian. Your VantageScore credit score may not be identical to scores you receive directly from Experian or from other sources.
3Identity Theft Insurance is underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc., under group policy # 7077733 for non-New York State Insureds and # 1423212 for New York State Insureds. All exclusions and limitations of the master policy apply. See the Benefit Summary for details regarding such exclusions and limitations. Availability of coverage is subject to underwriting qualifications and state laws and regulations. Coverage is subject to actual policy language.
The Identity Theft Insurance benefits are provided to all members, along with all other benefits afforded as part of FreeScoresAndMore, through Alliance Marketing Association (the "Association"). Upon enrollment in the FreeScoresAndMore service, you will automatically be admitted as a member of the Association. The Identity Theft Insurance is underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc., (collectively, the "Company") under group policy # 7077733 and 1423212. The Benefit Summary under the master policy issued by the Company with respect to such insurance will be available to you upon enrollment in FreeScoresAndMore. The summary of policy benefits, terms, conditions, exclusions, and limits of coverage set forth in the Benefit Summary are subject to the terms of the master policy.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: YOUR LIABILITY FOR UNAUTHORIZED USE UNDER FEDERAL LAW: For credit cards: If the card issuer has notified you of your maximum potential liability, has provided a means for you to notify the card issuer of credit card loss, and if the credit card contains a means of identifying the cardholder or authorized user, then your liability for unauthorized use of your card before the card issuer is notified is no more than $50.00 on each card. For debit and cash machine (ATM) cards: Your liability for unauthorized use of your card is no more than $50.00 if you notify the card issuer of card loss within two business days after you learn of the loss of the card. After that, your liability is up to $500.00, provided that the card issuer establishes that the unauthorized charges would not have occurred if you had notified the card issuer within the two business day period. In addition, if you do not notify the card issuer within 60 days after a periodic statement showing unauthorized transfers is sent to you, then you will also be liable for the amount of unauthorized transfers that occurred after the 60-day period and before notice to the card issuer, provided that the card issuer establishes that the unauthorized charges would not have occurred if you had notified the card issuer within the 60 day period. Your card issuer's liability policy may provide for lesser liability amounts than indicated above. Consult your card issuer's terms and conditions for specific details. The policy of many card issuers is not to hold cardholders liable. Nothing set forth in your membership materials alters any rights or liability you may have under federal or state law with respect to unauthorized or erroneous transactions on your card or bank accounts. You are not required to have this service to maintain your credit, debit, or ATM cards.
4 The federal Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute billing errors, such as unauthorized charges, on your credit card by notifying your credit card company in writing within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was sent to you. The credit card company must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (not to exceed 90 days) after receiving your notification. You may withhold payment on the disputed amount (and related charges) during the investigation. You must pay the amount not in dispute. You will be informed in writing whether your bill is correct or contains an error. If your bill contains an error, it will be corrected. Your liability for unauthorized charges is limited to $50.00 per credit card. You are not required to enroll in FreeScoresAndMore to maintain your credit card.
FreeScoresAndMore is a service of Trilegiant Corporation. Any part of the FreeScoresAndMore service may be modified or improved at any time and without prior notice. FreeScoresAndMore is not available to residents of Rhode Island. FreeScoresAndMore is a service mark of Affinion Publishing LLC.