November 21st, 2011

Do You Know What’s NOT In Your Credit Score?

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credit scores

Most all of us rely on credit at some point in our lives. While you may already know your credit is checked when applying for a loan or credit card, it may have also been checked when you signed up for a new cell phone plan, applied for a new apartment, or opened an account at a credit union.

Since credit affects so much of our adult lives, it’s important to know what factors go into your credit score, including open credit card utilization, percentage of on-time payments, number of derogatory marks, average age of open credit lines, total number of accounts and total hard credit inquiries. (Read more about these six factors here.)

It’s also important to understand what’s not in your credit score, especially since there are many misconceptions. Here’s a quick run-down of the factors that don’t affect your credit:

    Ethnicity
    Gender
    Religion
    Marital status
    Age
    Salary
    Occupation
    Employer
    Employment history
    Where you live
    Interest rates
    Payday and pawn shop loans
    Child support payments
    Rental agreements
    Participation in credit counseling.

Isn’t it comforting to know that your creditors can’t discriminate against you due to your race or gender? And that they can’t judge your creditworthiness based on your occupation?

Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes!

Even though your credit report will probably remain independent of most of the above factors, there are some changes brewing, particularly when it comes to mortgage lending.

In order to better assess a consumer’s creditworthiness, some scoring companies will begin providing an additional score especially for mortgage lenders, according to the Los Angeles Times. This score, offered by FICO, will incorporate the following previously unavailable factors:

    Payday loans
    Evictions
    Child support payments

In the near future, more information could be factored into these scores, such as the status of your utility, rent and cell phone payments.

But FICO’s not the first scoring company to incorporate more data into their scores. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion have started providing estimates of consumer income on credit reports, and Experian this year has started including positive data on rental payments in its reports.

For lenders, these changes mean that credit scoring models are becoming even more predictive of consumer financial behavior. For consumers, it means we have to be more cautious with actions that previously seemed unrelated to credit scoring; taking out one payday loan could soon mean the difference in being approved or denied for a mortgage.

The Future of Credit Scoring

For now, these new factors are minimal and limited. For instance, the updates in FICO’s scoring will only be available to mortgage lenders, and, for now, Experian only reports positive rental data. In other words, your missed rent payment doesn’t affect your Experian credit score.

But these changes could signal more drastic ones to come. In the future, your credit card issuer may be able to see what your interest rates are on each of your lines of credit. Or your auto loan lender might see whether or not you’re making child support payments that could make it difficult for you to also make auto loan payments.

Your Next Move

In light of these changes, don’t change a thing. That may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true; stick to the tried-and-true good credit health moves:

These smart moves won’t steer you wrong, no matter how credit scoring changes. Keep on top of your credit report by checking your free credit report card often.

Have a Karmic day,

Bethy Hardeman, Social Media Maven

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