Identity Theft and Your Credit Score
April 3rd, 2012
Lenders need to know if you’ll pay them back.
When you apply for a car loan, mortgage or credit card, lenders want to know their level of risk in approving the loan. Your credit score is the measurement of your credit worthiness, and is a major factor in whether you get the loan and the interest rate you pay.
Monitoring credit scores can be a real inconvenience for many people. So they usually wait until something goes wrong before checking their scores. But waiting too long can be costly. When identity thieves have your personal information, their fraudulent activity is reflected on your credit score and credit report. And monitoring both could help you minimize the damage to your good name and credit.
High scores win the credit game.
Your credit score is calculated to provide a quick snapshot of your credit worthiness. It’s known as a FICO score, and it was initiated by Fair Isaac Corporation in 1958. It’s a quantitative, analytical way lenders use to determine whether you’ll be able to make your loan payments. When you hear someone say their credit is in the 700s, they’re reporting their FICO score. While your credit score is a good indicator of credit worthiness, your credit report gives lenders even more insight.
Your credit report is a detailed history of your loans and payments. Miss a payment and it’s noted. Take out too many loans and it’s noted. The credit report also includes all your credit cards and payment history. It will show if you’ve been denied a loan or credit card.
Keep your eye on the numbers.
When your credit score falls, a red flag should go up and you should immediately pull a credit report to learn why. Credit reports are available from three major reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. You’ll probably have to pay, but there are circumstances that allow you to get a credit report without paying a cent.
Are you eligible for a FREE credit report?
- Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year—no questions asked.
- If you were recently denied credit, you can get the report to learn why.
- Unemployed workers who plan on seeking full-time employment within 60 days can also receive a free credit report.
- Anyone who receives public welfare can receive a credit report at no cost.
It is important to note that as helpful as credit scores are, they are reactive. So by the time you notice a meaningful drop in your score, the damage has already been done.
With your personal information, identity thieves can shop ‘till they drop and leave you with a bag full of bad credit. If you don’t get it fixed, the spree that began with your good name could end with a ruined credit reputation.