Every year, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the free credit bureaus. By going to www.annualcreditreport.com, it is possible for you to get access to a credit report from each of the bureaus. This is important, since what is in your credit report can affect your credit score. If you want to keep a good credit score, part of it is making sure that information in your report is accurate. However, you have to realize that, although you are entitled to a free credit report, you are not entitled to a free credit score.
Why Were You Turned Down for Credit?
Additionally, whenever an “adverse action” takes place due to your credit, the lender is required to let you know what information was used, and you can get a free credit report from the bureau that provided the information. But, that still doesn’t let you know what credit score was used to deny you credit (or give you a higher interest rate). That is about to change, though, when July 21, 2011 rolls around. That’s when a provision in the financial reform bill passed last year takes place.
The new law says that if you suffer some sort of penalty because of your credit score, you have to be provided — free of charge — a copy of the score that the lender used. This means that you will get to look at the actual number that prompted the problem. And you will have a chance to address the issues that led to the adverse action. This can be helpful for consumers, since it will give them a better idea of what information about them is being used in important financial decisions. Other actions that can result in your being provided a free credit score include being turned down for insurance, a requirement to pay a higher security deposit, or being forced to find a co-signer.
Different Credit Scores
Even though you will have free access to a specific credit score if something negative happens because of the scoring model used, you will not have free access to all the credit scores. It is important to note that different versions of various credit scoring models are used. Each credit bureau has its own versions, and many lenders add their own tweaks to well-known credit scoring models like FICO. So the free score that you get will likely only apply to that one lender or situation.
In general, though, there are some actions you can take to ensure that your credit score is generally high — no matter what scoring model is used:
- Make your payments on time and in full.
- Do your best to pay down debt and keep your credit utilization low.
- Keep a long history of credit use.
- Have varied types of credit.
- Only open new accounts when you actually need them.
- Check your credit report regularly for errors, and have them fixed.
If you pay attention to your financial habits, using credit responsibly and paying off balances quickly, it is likely that you will be able to keep a good credit score.