One of the most important tools you have to help you achieve and keep a good credit score, whether you’re just starting out or are turning over a new credit leaf, is correct and accurate information. There are many credit myths floating around out there, and part of that is due to the fact that credit scoring practices have evolved through the years and continue to change, making it important to continue to update yourself on credit matters.
Here are a few of the more common credit scoring myths that are current today. It’s important to know the facts, as believing the myths can be not only inconvenient, but also damaging.
My credit score doesn’t matter because I’m not applying for loans and I don’t want a credit card
The fact: Your credit score can affect your life, even if you are not applying for loans and have no desire for a credit card. Potential employers and landlords sometimes use your credit score to evaluate your potential to be a responsible employee or a trustworthy tenant. Utility companies may use that to determine whether or not they will require a deposit from you, and if so, how much. Insurance companies may use that score to help determine your rates. Whether or not you seek credit cards or loans, your credit score can affect your quality of life.
Paying off a debt will remove it from your credit report
The fact: Your credit report will list activity for seven years, with some major items, such as a bankruptcy, staying on it for up to ten years. That means, even if the debt is paid, it will be on your credit report.
Your age, gender and income are important factors in your overall credit score
The fact: While, years ago, that was indeed the case, today is a different situation entirely. Numerous consumer and credit protections have been enacted, and gender can no longer be used in that way. Age and income are also no longer the factors that one would think they were. In fact, the credit score is strictly about how you handle your money and credit, all have the opportunity to create a good credit score with careful money management.
Checking your credit score can damage your score
The fact: There are two different types of inquiries, when it comes to credit. Soft inquiries are those that that are checking the credit score, but not in response to a loan application or credit request. You checking your own credit score falls into this category. Hard inquiries are the ones that you need to worry about, those associated with loan or credit card applications. It doesn’t look good to seem as though you are being repeatedly turned down for credit, or to look as though you are seeking a lot of credit fast. You should try to keep the number of hard inquiries to a minimum. However, you can shop around for loans without hurting your score, if you do so within a two-week period, and each inquiry is for the same loan amount and purpose. In that circumstance, those hard inquires falling within that time period will count as one. But, be sure to check your credit report to verify that it does show up in that manner and correct it if it does not.
When it comes to creditors, your credit score is the only thing that matters, that is the number you sink or swim on
The fact: The good news is that, although different lenders do have different standards, for many there are a variety of factors that count, meaning that it your credit score it not the best it can be, all hope is not lost. Other factors can play a role, including how long you’ve lived at your current address, how long you’ve had your current job, as well as your previous work history, your current income and other assets you may possess.
A divorce decree will absolve you of your credit responsibilities
The fact: Part of the divorce process is to divide the joint debt. The divorce judge will determine who is ultimately responsible for the payments on all debt that was accrued during the marriage, including credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. However, the judge’s ruling does not override the contract that you signed with your creditors. So if you and your spouse have joint accounts, any default on those accounts will affect both of you, regardless of who the judge ultimately assigns responsible for the payments after the divorce. We see this time and time again, so take this as fair warning: If you and your spouse obtained a credit card in both of your names prior to the divorce, and the judge orders one of you to be responsible for that card’s payments after the divorce, BOTH of you will still be affected by this card on your credit reports.