How's your FICO Score?

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

Each of the three credit reporting agencies has its own formula for building your credit score. The original FICO score 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 the formulas vary, the differences aren't huge; all of the agencies use the following to calculate a credit score:

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

These factors are assigned weights based on the formula being used. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800. Higher is better. Most borrowers getting a mortgage score 620 or above.

Not just for qualifying

Did you know? 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.

Can I raise my FICO score?

What can you do about your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the score is built on your lifelong credit history, so it's not possible to raise it significantly in the short term. (Of course you must remove incorrect data on your credit report.)

Getting your FICO score

To raise your FICO score, you must get the reports that are used to build it, and of course, you need the score itself. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. It's inexpensive, fast, and easy to get your credit score along with credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies. They also provide information and tools that can help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score.

You can get a federally-mandated free credit report once per year from all three credit reporting agencies when you visit AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not include a free score, but it's very inexpensive to get one at the same time.

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

Want to know more about your FICO score? Give us a call: (303) 931-7879.

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