Credit Myths and Facts

Changes in the credit scoring system over time, plus incorrect advice that has filtered out to the public, has resulted in several myths regarding credit scoring. Learn the facts.

MYTH: It is impossible/takes forever to dispute information on my credit file

FACT: By law, the bureaus have only 30 days to complete an investigation on your credit file — all you have to do is request it!

MYTH: My bad credit will haunt me forever

FACT: By law, negative information can only stay on your credit file for seven years (bankruptcies for 10 years). Also, the past 24 months are the most sensitive — older negative info will hurt your score less than more recent information.

MYTH: It doesn’t matter when I pay a collection, because as soon as I pay it, it will be removed from my credit report

FACT: It’s best to pay a collection as soon as you’re aware of it. If you wait to pay a collection, the date will remain current, affecting your score more severely.

Paying it does not remove it from your file — it will remain as a "paid collection," which is still a derogatory item.

Be aware that when you pay it, the account will show "new" activity and since it’s a derogatory account, that can lower your score. Even though you intend to do the right thing, it could affect your score negatively. Some lenders don’t put much weight on old collections, or collections below a certain dollar amount, so check with us before making any changes. It might be smarter to pay the account after your home loan is approved.

MYTH: My score will drop if I apply for new credit (inquiries)

FACT: Inquiries are a minimal part of your score calculation. Also, multiple inquiries from mortgage or auto lenders within a short period of time are typically treated as a single inquiry.

MYTH: It doesn’t matter how high my credit card balances are, as long as I make my payments on time

FACT: Maxed-out credit cards are viewed as a negative item. Try to keep balances at or below 30% of your available credit.

MYTH: It’s a good idea to open up an account if I’m offered a discount at the store or 0% interest for a few years

FACT: Opening up a new account through a finance company has a negative impact on your score. On top of this, it will likely be reported as a maxed-out revolving account — another negative factor.

MYTH: I should close out old accounts that I don’t really use anymore

FACT: Those old accounts show long payment histories and add positively to your credit. Your score is based on both positive and negative credit. Keep them open and use them every six months or so just to keep them active.

MYTH: If I co-sign on a loan, it won’t affect my credit

FACT: By co-signing, you are taking on responsibility for that loan — it will affect your credit!  On the other hand, a trick few people know about is that you can improve your score by becoming a co-signer or authorized user on another person’s account who has good credit. Ask us how.

MYTH: Lenders will judge me based on my credit score alone

FACT: While a credit score is an important factor, lenders also look at factors such as your debt, income and employment history. We use lenders who evaluate the overall financial scenario, not just one factor.

MYTH: If I dispute my information with one bureau, they will send the updated info to the other two

FACT: The bureaus don’t share information, so it’s up to you to contact all three bureaus. We have a service that submit changes to all three bureaus for you.

We hope this info is useful and helps clarify how credit works. There are other aspects to credit scoring and we have other techniques for improving your credit score. If you have questions, let us know and we will design a strategy to help you get the best possible score.

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