Your Credit Score — And How to Improve It
- Thursday, September 06, 2007
In this article I want to cover two important things. First, I want to share two reasons why it’s important for a Christian to have a reasonably good credit score. (By the way, neither have anything to do with going out and borrowing more money!) And, second, I want to show you how to check your credit reports and find your credit scores.
First things first: Why is it important to have a good credit score?
As I said, there are at least good two reasons why Christians should be concerned about maintaining (or, regaining) good credit scores — and neither are to help you go out and get more deeply into debt.
The first thing to know is that practically everybody is checking our credit scores these days. You can bet the next time you apply for a job, the boss is likely to pull your credit info. Insurance companies are increasingly checking their customers’ (and prospective customers’) credit scores. Some experts believe that some insurance companies use this information to help them determine your premium rates. And even the United States military is now pulling credit scores at some of its bases to help determine clearance levels. So, simply put, you need to maintain a good credit score for practical, dollars-and-cents reasons.
Secondly, to some extent, our credit scores are a reflection of our character. As Christians, we should be honorable people — people of good character. This is part of our witness to the outside world. Sadly, many bankers will tell you that preachers are notoriously bad credit risks. This is a black eye for the Christian world. If you wear the name of Christ, you are an ambassador for Christ. And, as his ambassador it is important to reflect truth and integrity.
The Bible tells us that “The wicked borrows and does not pay back” (Psalm 37:21a). And the Proverbs tells us that, “A good name is to be more desired than great riches, favor is better than silver and gold.” The bottom line: Christians reflect Christ best when they pay their bills and have credit scores that reflect that fact.
How to check your credit reports and find your credit scores
Most people are confused about credit scores and credit reports. There is an important difference between the two.
Your credit report is kept primarily by three major companies: Experion, TransUnion, and Equifax. These three firms collect data from all sorts of sources, primarily companies that have extended you credit. They maintain huge data banks of information on you. You need to check with these companies and make sure that what they have on their reports is accurate.
A couple of years ago, the federal government passed new legislation that now requires these three companies to give you a free copy of you credit information once a year. You can go to the various company websites, or to www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit reports.
NOTE: Here’s a strategy: Consider not requesting all three reports at one time. Instead, consider requesting one from each of the three companies every three or four months. This way, if someone is messing around with your credit (i.e. identity theft) you may be more likely to catch it than if you only check once a year.
What’s the difference in my credit report and my credit score?
I’m glad you asked. A lot of people are confused about credit reports and credit scores. Your credit report is what we have just been discussing. There are three of them (usually all fairly similar, but with some differences) maintained by the three companies I just mentioned; Experion, TransUnion, and Equifax. These reports are just that. They report your credit activity and history.
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