About the FICO Credit Score

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Since we live in an computer-driven world, it's not surprising that your ability to repay your mortgage loan comes down to a single number. The years of paying your various bills: your mortgage, vehicle payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

All three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a score. The original FICO model 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, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following factors in building your score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • Payment History - Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many credit card accounts do you have, and how much do you owe on them?
  • Requests for Credit - How many times have lenders pulled your credit report for the purpose of lending you money?

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. Each formula produces a single number which varies slightly by agency. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher scores are better. Most home buyers in the current environment have a score above 620.

Your FICO score affects how much you pay in interest every month

FICO scores affect more than your ability to get a loan. They also affect your interest rate. Lenders give lower interest rates to individuals with higher scores.

Raising your FICO score

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. Despite what you hear from "credit repair" companies, the FICO score is built on your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. You must, of course, appeal for the credit agency to remove any incorrect reporting from your credit report; this is really the only way to quickly improve your credit score.

Getting your credit score

To raise your credit score, you must have the reports that are used to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive to quickly get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful information and online tools that help you improve your FICO score.

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

Now that you have all the facts, you will be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the most favorable mortgage.

Curious about your FICO score? Call us: (808) 264-3715.

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