Credit Scores and Ratings

What your credit score means, when it matters, and how you can improve it.

Hurting Your Credit Score

Myth: “I hear that every time someone checks your credit it lowers your credit score.”

Myth Buster: While there is some truth to this statement, there are some exceptions. Most notably is that you can check your own credit report whenever you want and it is not going to impact your credit score at all. However, your credit rating is impacted if a lender or credit grantor checks your credit.

Research has shown that people who are actively seeking credit are riskier than people who are not looking for credit. Riskier means that if someone owes more, or could owe more with credit that they’re applying for, it’s harder to repay all of what they owe. The only way that creditors can know that someone is actively looking for credit is if the credit inquiries are listed on their credit report.

To try to identify people who might be a higher risk, and less likely to be able pay back money they borrow, the credit bureaus reduce a person’s credit score if they have a lot of credit inquiries in a short period of time. They do, however, realize that people will often go rate shopping when they are looking at making a major purchase, like a car or a house. If this appears to be the case, the credit bureaus have a way to count all of those inquiries as one, as long as they occur within a few weeks.

The amount that a credit score is lowered depends on a number of factors, including on how you use the credit you already have. Most people can apply for credit a few times a year without seeing much of an impact on their credit score.

The bottom line is that if people only apply for credit when they need it and use it responsibly, they should never have a problem.

To learn about more factors that effect your credit score, click here.

To learn all about credit reports, click here to see a government publication.

 

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