Great news, distressed homeowners! If you aren’t eligible for the President’s homeowner assistance package and can’t negotiate a better deal on your mortgage, the New York Times says that turning in the keys and leaving your home may not be the end of your financial world. The Times mapped out a guide for dealing with the various players controlling your mortgage…
Just like I figured, the reason Experian won’t sell you your FICO score anymore is because of a contract dispute with the Fair Issac corporation, and I’m guessing it has to do with the rollout of FICO ’08
Would you buy a credit score that lenders don’t even use? Check it, when Consumer Reports went over the the fine print, Experian’s “VantageScore” says that it’s “for educational purposes only.” And their “PLUSscore” is “not currently sold to lenders.” What good does that do you? None. It’s just something for them to market and make money money off people who don’t know any better.
Soon consumers will only be able to see two out of the three credit scores lenders use to judge their credit worthiness. Out of nowhere, Experian announced it will no longer be selling its version of the FICO score through myFICO.com.
A new system for determining your credit-worthiness, FICO ’08, rolls out this Thursday, and there’s nothing you can to do stop it. By these 6 changes, ye shall be judged:
Reader David said he called Discover Card to cancel his account — but was advised against it because canceling credit cards can hurt your credit score. He wants to know if it’s true.
It looks like after March 1, 2009 quondam Washington Mutual cum Chase customers won’t be able to get their FICO scores for free anymore through their bank. Those people in the picture look pretty excited about yet another WaMu feature being taken away. Woohoo, indeed. [Chase] (Thanks to Luke!)
FICO: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Take our poll and see how you measure up.
FICO score isn’t the only credit score game in town. That’s good news for people who have low scores thanks to being an immigrant, divorcee, or don’t have the means to acquire the credit in the first place. It’s one of those quirks of the system. To get credit, you have to have a credit history. To get a credit history, you need to be able to get credit. Thusly, some people find themselves a bit stuck. To meet the needs of these these “thin credit file borrowers”, some alternatives to the standard FICO score are out there. Let’s look at three.
Statistics show that 80% of credit histories have at least one error. Most of them are minor and inconsequential but some can have an adverse effect on your credit score, often costing your thousands on mortgages and car loans. I believe credit bureaus were so lackadaisical about accuracy because it forced consumers to buy their credit reporting services. You wouldn’t know there’s an error unless you paid Equifax for a copy of your report. Fortunately, federal law now makes it possible for us to police our own records and force bureaus to correct them, all on their dime. Here’s how:
How the heck do they figure out your FICO credit score? The five different factors, in order of decreasing importance are: 1) payment history 2) amounts owed 3) length of credit history 4) new credit 5) types of credit used. For a bit more detailed explanation on how each of these plays out, the “What’s in your FICO score” at myFico.com is a good place to start.
At first glance, this ad for CreditReportAmerica seems to have the credit score system reversed, with 350-619 listed as “excellent” and 750-840 listed as “poor”…but then you realize it’s actually a graphical depiction of the system shady mortgage brokers used to get when whoring up the sub-prime mortgage orgy. Travel blogger Mark Ashley says he spotted the ad on the frontpage of Yahoo Finance. At the bottom, the ad says the service does not include credit scores. Remember folks, the place to get a free credit report is annualcreditreport.com.
Personal finance columnist Liz Pulliam Weston saw Rebekah’s story yesterday, “Is It OK To Use Credit Cards For Everything, If You Pay Them Off Every Month?” and wanted to clarify something important. If you pay off the cards in full, the balances reported to the credit bureaus will not be zero. More likely, it will be the balance from your last statement. Liz writes:
Reader Rebekah has a question about credit cards. She and her husband pay off their cards every month, but like to charge most of their expenses because they enjoy the reward points. She’s wondering if this is a good idea and how it affects her credit.
If you’ve got a few credit cards lying around that you haven’t used in a while but don’t want to lose, you might want to talk them out for a walk.
Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC) is an alternative credit reporting agency that will record your payment histories for things like rent and utilities bills. PRBC says you can then use this verified credit history to supplement your FICO score and credit history from the big three reporting companies. It’s meant in part as a way to help people who don’t have extensive standard credit histories, or who have always paid monthly expenses on time but have other blots (like medical bills) on their official credit histories.
The CreditKarma.com site we told you about in our roundup of “5 No BS Ways To Get A Credit Score For Free” has changed its calibration system so the free, advertising-supported, credit score it gives you is now on the 300-850 range, just like your FICO score. It’s still not your FICO score, but it does make the approximation, based on TransUnion data, more relevant. If you’re do some major money moves, like getting a mortgage, you would still want to pay for the FICO score for total accuracy, but if you just want a general sense of how you’re doing, CreditKarma.com is a great way to do it for free.