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Knowing the "Score"

The three little numbers that make up your credit score mean a lot.

They dictate how much interest you have to pay on your credit card and mortgage.

Consumer reports says poor score can even shut you out of a job.

If you're close to the limit on your credit card, if you sign up for too many credit cards, if you're late with just one bill, it can all impact your credit score. But few of us even know our score.

Consumer Reports' Lisa Lee Freeman says what you don't know about your credit score can hurt you. “Your credit score and your credit reports can directly affect the rates you pay for your mortgage, your auto loans, your credit cards. Employers use the score to determine whether to hire you and landlords may use the score to determine whether they want to rent to you."

Your credit score is used by lenders and others to predict whether you're a good credit risk. You have one from each of the big 3 credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.

They calculate your credit score based on the data they have on you from banks, credit cards, and from public records such as bankruptcy filings and tax liens.

Consumer Reports says what's troubling, there are often errors in your information that can lower your score. In fact, a report from the U.S. public interest research group found 25 percent of the credit reports surveyed contained serious errors that could result in denial of credit.

So what can you do?

Consumer reports says you need to find out what your credit score is from each of the big 3 credit reporting firms. You have to pay for this information.

The easiest way is to go to myfico.com. For about $44 you'll get 3 of your credit scores as well as your 3 credit reports.

It's important to get your credit score because you want to improve it. You want to make sure it's as high as it can be because just a few points can cost you thousands of dollars.

Knowing your score is the first step to making sure your credit is as good as it can be.

Credit scores range anywhere from 300 to 850.

The median score is about 720.

If you've got a middle score or lower, Consumer Reports says it's important to take steps to improve your score.


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