Credit Reporting Myths You Need to Know

Your credit is critical for your personal financial health, yet many people still believe common misconceptions about credit scores and credit reporting. Unless you have recently visited a consumer credit law firm in Fairfax to discuss identity theft or inaccurate credit reporting with a credit lawyer, then it may be time to learn a little more about credit reporting.

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Myths About Credit Inquiries

It is commonly thought that any type of credit inquiry will adversely affect a person’s credit score. In fact, there is no impact on a person’s credit history when he or she checks his or her own credit. This is a type of “soft inquiry.” A credit report lawyer at a consumer credit law firm is likely to recommend that you check your credit reports frequently for signs of identity theft and erroneous information, since these two issues can indeed have a negative impact on your credit. On the other hand, when you apply for a loan or other line of credit, this is known as a “hard inquiry” and it can affect your credit score. The effect can be negligible. You can shop around for similar type loans by applying for credit multiple times within a period of a few weeks for the same types of credit. However, many different applications for many different types of credit may adversely affect your credit score. Some scoring models recognize these as similar applications (like a car loan) and treat them as one inquiry, but others may not.

Myths About Delinquent Accounts

Another common myth about credit reporting is that negative information is automatically removed from a person’s credit history once that account has been paid in full. In fact, paying off a delinquent account should mean that the account will be listed as “paid.” However, it will remain on the credit history for a set period of time. Collections accounts, for instance, typically remain on a person’s credit history for seven years. If you have paid or settled a collection item, you will have an inaccurate credit report if the account is not actually marked as paid or settled on your credit report. If you do not pay the account in full and the creditor agrees to settle the debt for a lesser amount that will negatively affect your credit score as well.

Myths About Closing Accounts

If you have old credit cards and similar accounts, you might think that closing those accounts would help boost your credit score. Actually, doing this could very well reduce your credit score significantly. This is because one factor that goes into calculating your credit score is the amount of debt you carry relative to your available credit. In other words, if you have two credit cards, each with a $3,000 limit and you close one of them, you will reduce your available credit limit by $3,000 or 50 percent, which could affect your credit utilization ratio.

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