Understanding Credit Scores

by: Sonja Griesbach

Credit scores are created by credit reporting agencies. Each has their own proprietary scoring models, but they all work in a similar fashion. Credit scores are generated from statistical models designed to help financial institutions predict the risk associated with financed purchases such as cars, homes, and credit cards.
  • The score is a number usually ranging from about 350-850.
  • In general, the higher the number, the lower the risk.
The scoring systems take into account several factors from your credit report, and each has a varying degree of importance. Some examples include:
  • The timeliness of your payments, including late payments.
  • The amount and type of debt you have.
  • The number and age of your credit accounts.
  • Inquiries created by applying for credit.
  • Public records such as liens and judgments.

Credit reporting agencies

To get more specific information regarding your credit score, contact any of the three major credit reporting agencies. Each can provide you with a copy of your credit report including your credit score and is required to provide you with one free report annually. There may be a fee for additional requests.