Sometimes, asking Google a question can lead to way too much information. That’s especially true when trying to get information about credit scores and credit reports. You might ask, “What’s my FICO Scores?” or “Why did my credit score go down?” or “What’s in my credit report?” and you’ll get thousands of results. Which results are you supposed to believe?
Well, there are websites like myFICO.com where you can get the answers you’re looking for and know they’re correct. Unfortunately, many people don’t use these sites as often as they should and come away with facts that, well, aren’t facts – just myths that don’t seem to go away.
Here are the 8 credit score myths:
- Checking your credit hurts your score.
False. Using credit monitoring services won’t hurt your score no matter how many times you check it. These are considered soft inquiries.
- You have to make a lot of money to have a good credit score.
Untrue. If you check the 5 factors that make up your credit score, wealth and/or income isn’t one of them. How you pay your bills, the different types of credit you have, and how long you’ve had credit make up your credit score. It doesn’t matter how much money you have – paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization low are the two best things you can do for your credit score.
- Employers will check your credit score.
Another myth that keeps ongoing. It’s actually against the law for employers to check credit scores of employees or those seeking employment. Important note: an employer can check your credit report, but not your score. A big difference, but something you should know if you’re looking for a job.
- Closing a credit card account will improve your credit score.
In truth, the opposite may be true. Closing a credit card (especially one with a balance) can hurt more than it can help. Leaving accounts open, particularly those in good standing can help your credit score a lot more than you might think.
- A bad credit score will last forever.
Really? No. It took time to get a bad credit score and it will take time to turn it around. As long as you manage your credit well and stop paying bills late or maxing out your credit cards, you can increase your credit score and get that number as high as you want.
- Debit cards help build a good credit score.
Not true. The truth is, there’s no “credit” factor to debit or prepaid cards. Therefore, your credit history with these cards isn’t considered when determining your credit score. Credit cards, loans and mortgages are the financial products that impact your credit score the most.
- You should only check your credit when applying for a loan.
Ignore anyone who tells you this. It’s important to check your credit score and credit reports throughout the year. By monitoring your credit on a consistent basis, you’ll know how well you’re managing your credit, you’ll be able to see if there are any errors on your report and you’ll also find out quickly if an identity thief is doing damage to your financial future.
- Paying off a collection means it won’t hurt your score
This is really all about “time”. Although paying a collection account can help your score over the long run, there’s not an immediate positive effect. The collection factors into your credit score until the credit reporting time limit expires (typically seven years). However, if you pay off your collection and keep managing your finances and credit appropriately, you should no doubt see your credit score improve over time.
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