Of course, if 32 percent of respondents never check their reports, it's hard to say if their perception reflects the reality.
|Compared to a year ago, is your credit better or worse?|
|Source: Bankrate.com 2007|
"We have no way to know whether their perception of their credit profile (and any change) is accurate," says Staten, "but, the responses are rather striking in their optimism. Not much evidence of pain from adjustments in the subprime mortgage interest rates or any foreclosure worries. Generally speaking, consumers seem to think they are moving forward financially."
It's hard to compare credit scores results against what one should reasonably expect from the population as a whole using the Fair-Isaac-reported population breakdown because half the respondents didn't know their scores.
For example, if we compare the FICO-reported credit scores with how people rate their credit compared to last year, we see that broken down by state, people in the South have lower credit scores by far than any other region, yet nearly half reported in our survey that their credit is getting better (47 percent).
Ulzheimer suggests that the respondents may have a misunderstanding of their own credit. In his experience, of the people who think they have really good credit, 50 percent do not. And, for those who think they have really bad credit, it's not always as bad as they believe.
"Credit scoring is still a mystery to the masses; it hasn't been in the public eye for more than five years or so," says Ulzheimer. And, he's skeptical of people's ability to place themselves. "If you don't know your score as of last month then you can't really place yourself, because they move that much."