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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is SmartAsset 360?

SmartAsset 360 is a product that helps you understand your credit information while also helping to protect your identity. Credit scores are becoming increasingly important and are used in a variety of situations, including: taking out a mortgage, renting an apartment, getting student and auto loans, obtaining credit cards, and even filling in job applications.

What is a credit bureau and what does it do?

Credit bureaus or reporting agencies collect and maintain stores of information used to measure credit worthiness. When you apply for credit, creditors look to the credit bureaus for information on your credit history. Creditors then use that information to determine the best way to give it to you. The three main credit bureaus are: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

What is credit?

Credit is any form of deferred payment. In other words, it is money lent to you on the condition that you pay it back at a later date.

Sounds great. How much can I borrow?

The amount of credit a creditor is willing to lend depends on your financial profile. When assessing a loan, lenders frequently examine current income and financial obligations such as lines of credit, rent, utilities, and other payments. They also look at your credit history in a credit report. For a mortgage loan, we can give you a good idea of how much you can borrow here.

What types of credit are there?

There are many different types of credit including bank credit, commercial credit, public credit and international credit. As far as the average consumer is concerned however, there are two types of credit that are readily available: investment credit and consumer credit.

Investment credit – Credit issued to consumers or businesses in order to obtain a mortgage on a home or property at a fixed or variable rate with repayment scheduled over a set period of time or in monthly installments.

Consumer credit – All credit issued to consumers other than that for mortgages. Consumer credit usually uses a fixed repayment schedule and offers either fixed or variable interest rates. Common forms of consumer credit include credit cards, store cards, auto finance, and personal loans.

What is a credit report?

A credit report is a record of your credit history. It includes information on late payments, bankruptcy, and how much credit you are currently being issued as well as past and current credit payments. A credit report gives lenders the information they need to make informed decisions about whether or not it’s a good idea to lend you money.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a number based on historical information in your credit report. The score reflects your likelihood to pay back a loan or credit obligation in the future.

So you gave me my credit score. What does it mean?

Your score is correlated to the risk that creditors associate with lending you money. Higher scores, representing those with the better credit, open up more favorable types of loans at lower rates. A higher score indicates a higher probability that you will repay a loan, meaning lenders can offer better terms. There are two scoring ranges used by the major credit bureaus:

Credit BureauScore MethodBadPoorFairGoodVery Good
Experian
(300-900)
Scorex PLUS (SCRX)300-449550-619620-679680-739740-900
Equifax/TransUnion
(352-848)
SMRTS Score (SMRT)352-472473-546547-621622-717718-848

How do the credit bureaus obtain information?

Credit bureaus get their information from many different sources. Credit bureaus track your financial history. They collect information about your credit from many sources including savings and loans, credit unions, finance companies, banks, savings and loans, credit unions, finance companies, and retailers and store it in a database.

Do all three credit bureaus have the same information on file?

No. The different credit bureaus have different sources of information. Lenders may report information on customers to only one or two of the agencies and not the others. The credit bureaus, moreover, do not share information with one another. Therefore, when a creditor looks up your information, he is looking at a distinct set of transactions in each report.

Most mortgage lenders will look at reports from all three credit reporting agencies and calculate scores using information from each. Other lenders however, may use reports from just one or two of the agencies.

What’s in my credit report?

A credit report can be broken down into four types of information: identifying information, credit history, public records, and inquiries.

Identifying information is information that credit bureaus use to identify you and your credit history. As you might expect it includes name, previous addresses, date of birth, telephone numbers, driver’s license numbers, employer, spouse name etc. This section only includes basic information and will never have data on personal subjects such as: gender, race, religion, driving record, income, or bank account information

It’s a good idea to look through this section of your credit report and make sure everything is as should be. It is not unusual for there to be two or three spellings of your name as it is recorded the way it is reported. The variations will stay on your credit report and are not an issue as long as they look like a normal spelling error.

The credit history section includes all of your credit accounts—sometimes called trade lines—which may include the account number (sometimes scrambled for security) and the name or the creditor. It is common to have more than one account with a creditor, or for your account to be transferred to a new location and given a new number (if you move for instance). Your credit history also includes:

  • Date you opened the account
  • The kind of credit—whether installment or revolving.
  • Whether the account is shared or not
  • Total amount of the loan, high credit limit or highest balance on the card
  • Amount owed
  • Fixed monthly payments or minimum monthly amount
  • Account status (open, inactive, closed, paid, etc.)
  • Payment history
  • Credit Score
The public records section details public records of financial issues such as bankruptcies, judgments and tax liens. These issues have the greatest impact on your credit. The inquiries section is a list of instances of when your credit report has been requested and by whom. Whenever a person or agency gets access to your report, an inquiry will be posted. Your own inquiries into your credit report are also recorded. However, a distinction must be made here. There are two types of inquiries: "Hard" inquiries initiated by you applying for credit, or a creditor looking into your history and "Soft" inquiries from companies looking to send promotional information to a group of pre-qualified people or to creditors monitoring your information.

Who can look at my credit report?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act specifies that creditors, insurers and other businesses can only use the information in the report to evaluate applications for credit, insurance, employment or renting a home. Frequently permissible requests for credit reports include: issuing credit, collecting debt, underwriting insurance, issuing government licenses, business transactions initiated by consumer.

The list of people who may be checking up on you includes not only the the credit card companies and financial institutions that supply your auto loans and mortgages, but also other institutions you might not expect (landlords and utility companies, insurance companies, credit unions, finance companies, banks, retailers, car dealers, department stores, investigators, lawyers, courts, phone companies, hospitals, doctors, and dentists).

Your employer can get a copy of your credit report if and only if you agree to it. A credit reporting company may not give information about you to an employer or prospective employer without prior written consent.

How long does information stay in my credit report?

Your credit report contains a lot of different information. Its different components have different shelf lives. Inquiries remain for just two years. Most information, such as public records and collection items will stay on your report for seven years. More dubious marks—bankruptcies (ten years), and unpaid tax liens (fifteen years)—will stay longer. The good news is that positive information remains indefinitely, although agencies can remove it after seven years.

How do changes in my credit report affect my credit score?

Your credit score changes whenever your credit report changes; whenever you information is added or removed to your credit report, that change is reflected in your score.

Why should I check my credit report?

Checking your credit report has the primary benefit of keeping you informed as to the way creditors and financial institutions view you. Your credit files give lenders the opportunity to look into your life, see your credit history, and use that information to determine your creditworthiness. By knowing what your credit report contains you give yourself the opportunity to correct any misinformation or inaccurate data. When trying to secure a favorable rate for a mortgage or other loan, knowing and understanding your own credit history helps to level the playing field.

Checking your credit score regularly also helps you monitor your financial security. Knowing where your score is, has been, and should be allows you to detect credit fraud and identity theft.

How often should I check my credit report?

With the massive prevalence of identity theft today, experts recommend checking up on your credit report regularly. By maintaining a good idea of what your credit report contains, you allow yourself to quickly detect anything irregular and stop identity theft before debt collectors start knocking on your door.

Will checking my credit report affect my credit score?

No. When your credit report is pulled, an inquiry is added to your report. However, only some of those inquiries appear to creditors and affect your score. Inquiries made for credit cards or loans will be showed to creditors and can affect your score. However, inquiries made when you request a copy of your own credit report or when an employer checks your credit report will not appear to creditors or affect your score.

What should I look for in my credit report?

It is important to frequently review your credit file to verify the following:

  • Name and Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security number
  • All accounts contained within the report are accounts of which you are aware
  • Credit/Charge Accounts
  • Outstanding balances/limits on the accounts
  • Payment histories
  • Derogatory credit information has been deleted after seven years (non-chapter 13 bankruptcies after ten years)
  • Inquiries

How do I cancel my subscription?

If for any reason you are not satisfied, you can cancel at any time to discontinue your monitoring membership. Cancellation must be made by calling our Customer Service department toll free at 800-331-3865 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST.)

Does SmartAsset360 provide FICO scores?

FICO or Fair, Isaac and Company, is a company that provides a scoring model estimating credit risk. SmartAsset360 uses scoring models developed by Experian and TransUnion, not FICO.