Credit Monitoring FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Credit Monitoring

    Why does my credit report and credit score matter?

    There are three primary reasons why your credit report and score can have a huge impact on your life. First, companies use it to decide whether or not they want to lend you money to buy a house or car, give you a credit card, lease you an apartment, give you a cell phone plan, give you cable without having to prepay, and countless other important decisions that have a huge impact on your quality of life. If you have a solid credit history as indicated by your credit report and credit score, chances are companies will be willing to work with you on all these services. If you do not, chances are you will have a hard time getting even the most basic services without having to pay for them in advance.

    Second, companies use your credit report to decide the interest rates that they charge you on loans, on credit cards and on any other type of loan or credit you get. This means that having negative information on your credit report can literally cost you thousands of dollars a year. Lenders and creditors typically use a credit score to make these decisions, which is calculated from information on your credit report. Let's use an example. Say you are buying a house and want to get a $216,000 mortgage. If your credit score is over 760 (indicating excellent credit), your interest rate based on current rates would be around 5.86%, which on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage would give you a monthly payment of $1,276. On the other hand, if your credit score was 630 (not very good but good enough to get a mortgage), your interest rate would be around 7.45%, giving you a monthly payment of $1,503. That's a difference of $227 per month, $2,724 per year and $81,720 over the life of the mortgage. Clearly, these are significant numbers. Of course, if your credit score was below 600, you would probably not be able to get a mortgage at all.

    The third reason you need to know what's on your credit report is identity theft. Identity theft is one of the most common crimes today. In addition to monetary loss, victims of identity theft also suffer by having their credit histories decimated, leaving them with very low credit scores, unable to be offered any credit and even having current credit revoked. This can take months or years to fix and may never be entirely resolved. The first sign of identity theft is usually a change to your credit report, often a credit inquiry prompted by the thief trying to open an account in your name. If you subscribe to a credit monitoring service, you will be notified of any change to your credit report within 24 hours of the change and should be able to catch any suspicious activity before it results in fraudulent activity in your name.

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