One-third of nation flying blind with credit
This trend is especially unfortunate considering the onus of policing the reports lies mainly on the consumer. As Staten says: "An informed consumer base is what we're relying on for consumer protection. Consumers are the only ones that can tell with any certainty that information is correct."
45 percent never checked their credit scores
Our next question, about credit scores, reveals that nearly half of Americans may be missing out on opportunities to save money because they neglect to check their credit scores. Forty-five percent of the people we surveyed say they have never checked their credit scores.
While credit scores are based upon information contained in the credit report, the facts contained therein are not the end of the story. Demonstrating the ability to use credit wisely by paying attention to debt-to-credit ratios, credit mix and credit inquiries are among the things factored into the score. The credit score provides the opportunity to learn which areas of the financial game plan can be finessed to bring down the cost of credit and insurance.
Again, Ulzheimer feels this response is significantly lower than actual numbers. He says, "We check this all the time and our results are in nineties." But he admits he talks to a self-selecting group.
Is your credit better today?
Another question in our survey prompted results rosier than expected. When asked about their credit as compared to a year ago, only 10 percent say their credit has worsened in the past year. That's still one in 10 people, so it's significant. But not nearly as interesting as the 50 percent who say their credit has improved. Add that to the number who are in the same place and we're up to nearly 85 percent who say they are doing as well or better than a year ago.