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Credit Resources and Information
It’s hard to get by today without accumulating at least some form of credit. When you apply for a loan, negotiate the terms for a new car, or sign a lease for your apartment, your credit is checked. But while a good credit score makes it easier to be pre-approved for loans with lower rates, a bad credit score means you’ll have fewer loan options and may be forced to take out loans with less-than-ideal rates.
That’s why it’s so important that you become familiar with your credit. Keeping an eye on your credit score, understanding how credit card debt works and knowing what to do if you think your credit has been compromised will help you have a better picture of your credit standing.
Read below for more information on your credit and how it works.
Your credit is calculated through a credit report, which is made up of a variety of different factors. It’s an in-depth look at your finances and is what creditors use to determine whether you’re approved for a loan.
Your credit score is broken down into five parts:
1. Payment history
2. Outstanding debts
3. Credit history
4. New credit
5. Credit in use
Though each aspect is scored differently, they all have an impact on your overall score. Because lenders often check your credit score before offering you a particular loan, a low credit score lets lenders know that you may be a high-risk borrower and therefore may limit the types of loans you’ll be offered. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of your credit score.
Paying Down Credit Card Debt
With most credit cards today touting interest rates that range anywhere between 10 to 30 percent, it’s no wonder more and more people are having trouble making ends meet.
The first step in successfully paying off your credit card debt is knowing which cards to pay off first. Cards that have a higher interest rate are the ones you’re going to want to target first, as these are costing you the most. After you’ve paid off these debts, it’s safe to move lower down the funnel.
Beware of Credit Scams
Because credit scams are becoming increasingly harder to detect, it’s important that you never give your private information over the phone or via email to a company you didn’t initially contact. There are a variety of different credit scams, but according to the FBI, below are the most common:
1. Telemarketing Fraud: When someone calls you asking for money or saying your account is “in danger” and needs immediate funds. Always be suspicious of any credit company that contacts you first. A reputable credit agency should only contact you after you’ve called, emailed or asked for help first.
2. Advanced Fee Schemes: When someone asks you to pay up front in return for a larger payout later on. These types of schemes can range from anything relating to a long-lost relative to a stranger in another country asking for money in return for a “big payout” over time. The best way to avoid these schemes is to remain skeptical, and to always check the legitimacy of a person or business beforehand.
3. Internet Fraud: Never give out your credit information online unless you know the site is both reputable and secure. And check with the Better Business Bureau before making a purchase, especially if you’ve never purchased from the site before.
Want to learn more about how to protect yourself from fraud? Take a look at our credit scams page to learn more.
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