**Originally published July 30, 2017. Updated June 29, 2020.**
Your credit score is key to your financial life. A good credit score determines your interest rates on car loans, college loans, and mortgages. For example, a good credit score can help you get a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. A bad credit score can hurt your ability to get a loan or credit card.
It has become increasingly important to monitor and protect your credit score and report because decisions are made about you based on your credit. When you try to rent an apartment or apply for a job, landlords and employers look at your credit to evaluate your financial stability. Credit decisions have a vital impact on you and your family.
Who’s Looking at Your Credit Reports and Scores
A variety of people and places you do business with will need to look at your credit reports and scores as part of standard processes, so it’s best to stay aware of your credit score and reports. Potential viewers include banks and credit unions, insurance companies, mortgage lenders, utility companies, rental property owners, and prospective employers. These current or potential creditors will use the score to determine creditworthiness and the potential risk of lending to you.
Why Are My Credit Scores Different?
You might notice your credit scores are different depending on which report you are viewing. There are a few reasons why credit scores vary, including:
- Credit Score Dates | Your credit score can change daily, depending on what has been updated or reported by different lenders. Be sure to compare scores pulled on the same date for the most accurate comparison across different models.
- Credit Score Models | Your credit score is calculated differently depending on which model is being used by the reporting agency. There are dozens of models, each giving different weights to different credit score elements, such as payment history, the number of accounts open, and credit utilization ratios.
- Credit Score Reporting | Your credit score may vary based on the credit report being used to do the calculation. If a lender only reports to one or two of the major credit bureaus, instead of all three, that credit report may be missing account information. If the missing credit information is positive, it may hurt your score as compared to other scores where the detail is included, and vice versa for potentially negative information.
How Often Should I Check My Credit?
Each credit bureau allows you to order one free copy of your credit report per year. Monitoring your own credit can be time-consuming, so we recommend that you enroll in a service such as IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit™ that monitors not only your credit reports, but also provides you with quarterly three-bureau credit reports and monthly Credit Score Tracker™, as well as additional credit monitoring tools, and proactive alerts.
Do I Need More Than a Credit Report?
Comprehensive ID theft protection will include credit reports and scores, but will also provide proactive monitoring of all the critical components that make up your digital identity, including personal information in public records, social media networks, the Dark Web, and people search sites. Identity protection can alert you when a new application is being submitted such as for a car loan, new mobile account, or home mortgage. It can also warn you about bank account, credit card, and investment account transactions, so you can spot potential fraud quickly and take action.
Let us show you how IdentityForce can help you protect what matters most. Start your free 30-day trial today!