About the FICO Credit Score

Since we live in an automated world, it should come as no surprise that your ability to repay your mortgage comes down to a single number. Credit reporting agencies use your payment history in order to create this score.

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 each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, each agency uses the following to calculate a score:

  • Your Credit History - How many years have you had credit?
  • History of Payments - Have you paid more than 30 days late, and how often?
  • Balances on your Credit Cards - How many accounts? How much do you owe?
  • Inquiries on Your Credit - How many times have you had your credit checked for a loan?

These factors are weighted differently depending on which formula the agency uses. The result is a single number: your FICO score. Credit scores can be as low as 300 and as high as 800. Higher scores are better. Typical home buyers will probably find their scores falling between 620 and 800.

Your score affects how much you pay in interest every month

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 improve my credit score?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do to immediately improve your credit score. So called "credit repair" companies advertise quick fixes, but the FICO score is formulated from your lifetime credit history, so you can't turn it around right away. (Of course you must have incorrect items removed from your credit report.)

Know your FICO score

To raise your FICO score, you must get the credit reports that the agencies use to build it. Of course, you need the score as well. Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that lets you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO from all three agencies, along with your credit report. Also available are helpful 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 a year from all three agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You won't get a free credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com, but getting one is fast and very inexpensive.

Armed with this information, you'll be a more informed consumer and you'll be better positioned to get the right mortgage for you.

Want to know more about credit scores? Call us: (860) 658-7100.

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