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Confused about credit reports and credit scores? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey from the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore, most millennials are clueless when it comes to credit. Take our quiz to see where you rate among your friends.
Answer: A.Credit scores aren't trying to predict how successful you will be or how awesome you are. Pulled by a variety of businesses, they are primarily used by lenders to determine your ability to pay back a loan as agreed.
Answer: D. The three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — are responsible for collecting the information on which your credit score is based.
Answer: E. In order to determine your ability to repay new loans, bureaus look at account info on your existing loans, including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans and accounts that may have gone to collections. They also collect information via public records on bankruptcies, civil judgments and tax liens.
Answer: B. Sorry to break it to you, but your credit score is always changing. Also, there are many different scores. (FICO and VantageScore are the most well-known.) Lenders also have proprietary scores they use when you show up and apply for a loan, so the score you see may differ from the one being used to approve a loan. But if you've never seen a credit score -- or haven't looked recently -- you can get your VantageScore credit score for free at myBankrate.
Answer: A. Yup, the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to one free credit report from each credit bureau every 12 months. You can purchase the report's score from the bureaus for a small fee. There are also websites that offer free versions of your score. And thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act, creditors must disclose the credit score used to make a decision, if you are denied or offered less than the best terms on a loan.
Answer: C. Some personal information, such as your address, telephone number and date of birth, may appear on your credit report, but it's not going to sway your score. Instead, payment history, the amount of debt you owe, the amount of credit available to you, the length of your credit history, types of credit you have and credit inquiries are what's going to make or break your score.
Answer: C. Your payment history generally accounts for the largest percentage in credit-scoring models. It accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score. If you are looking at VantageScore, a first missed payment can cause it to drop 70 to 90 points, depending on your current score.
Answer: E. While primarily pulled by lenders, other businesses, including insurers, cellphone providers and, yes, prospective landlords, can request a copy of your credit report. Employers can also view your credit report as part of their job application process -- yikes! -- but they must ask your permission and won't be able to see your credit score.
Answer: D. An employee credit check is considered a soft inquiry and won't ding your score. The other credit applications mentioned here would generate a hard inquiry, since they indicate you are looking to take on more credit. But don't worry about your score taking a huge hit if you are looking for the best rate on a car loan or mortgage; scoring models group inquiries made within a specific time frame so you aren't punished for comparison shopping.
Answer: C. Financial services providers don't report information on prepaid or regular debit cards to the major credit bureaus, since no line of credit has been extended to the cardholder. Many issuers do, however, report information on secured credit cards, which require cardholders to put down a cash deposit upfront to cover the line of credit and thereby reduce the risk of default. Double-check your bank or issuer's reporting policies before applying for a particular secured credit card.