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Credit score resolutions

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Posted: 2 pm ET

It's the new year, and many of you are probably committed to bettering yourself in 2012. Maybe you plan to eat healthier or fit in more exercise? Refocus your career? How about improving your credit score?

A new survey released Tuesday from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that almost a quarter (24 percent) of the 2,300 consumers it polled last month listed "improving my credit score" as a financial resolution. That's up from 18 percent the year before.

That's an impressive jump. It makes me wonder if those new credit score disclosures that started going out in July of last year got some people really thinking about their credit.

Let me review.

The Federal Reserve Board and Federal Trade Commission issued new regulations that required creditors to provide a consumer with the credit score used to make a lending decision if the consumer was denied or received less-than-the-best terms. It also stipulated information about the score also be delivered to the consumer. That includes the key factors hurting the score, the range of possible scores under the model, the date the score was created and which credit bureau provided the score. Those rules went into effect July 21 of last year.

Since then, we can assume that many, many Americans got a wake-up call when they applied for a credit card, auto loan or other type of credit. First, they either got denied or received unfavorable terms. Second, they got a good look at their score and where it falls in the model range. And they learned which of their financial habits are keeping that score from being higher.

So maybe consumers are interested in taking control of their credit history, which was the goal of the regulations anyhow.

If you're one of them, you can start by pulling your credit report for free from one or all of the credit reporting agencies. Under federal law, consumers are entitled to a free report from each bureau once every 12 months. The place to go is AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you want to keep closer tabs on your credit report, there are several credit report tracking services online that will do so for a fee. CreditKarma.com also just introduced a free daily credit monitoring service for all consumers this week. When a significant change happens in your TransUnion credit file, CreditKarma.com will alert you via email. It will also keep a history of all your alerts.

So while you keep an eye on your vege intake or how many miles you run each week in 2012, keep the other eye focused on good financial habits and your credit. Happy New Year!

What are your financial resolutions this year?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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2 Comments
Ray
January 06, 2012 at 10:13 am

Don't waste your hard earned money on credit monitoring services. Just check your scores once per year for free. Ideally rotate by checking each bureau (Equifax, Experian, Transunion) quarterly (again, for free). If you're not planning on applying for credit soon, consider freezing your credit (you can still "unfreeze" it, temporarily or otherwise if you need to).