ó Phoenix resident Elizabeth Medora didnít know her
credit score until a credit card company gave her a
credit tracker a few years ago, and even then she didnít
think much about it.
that changed earlier this year when the credit tracker
alerted Medora to fraudulent activity on her account
from someone trying to open a new credit card in her
name. She gave herself a crash course in how to protect
herself and found out along the way how credit scores
my situation, an inquiry put through by a scammer
dropped my score around 5 points," Medora said.
"I was able to get that taken off, since it wasnít
my inquiry, but it did hit home with me that every time
I tried for a credit card Ö that inquiry was hurting
my credit score."
credit score can affect everything from the cost of a
car loan to what you pay for your cellphone plan,
according to consumer groups.
Consumer Federation of America reported last month that
while the number of people requesting at least one
credit score in a year has risen steadily since 2014,
the number of people who understand what that score
represents to their pocketbooks has fallen.
federation said credit scores are often used by
non-credit service providers, like cellphone companies
and electric utilities, to determine pricing. But the
number of people who were aware of that fell 9 percent
from last year, with 59 percent of people in a
federation survey saying they knew about cellphone
pricing and 44 percent aware of utilityís use, down
from 68 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
would think that increasing access to oneís credit
scores would help increase knowledge about these
scores," federation Executive Director Stephen
Brobeck said in the report. "But that apparently
has not been the case."
federation report also said that 56 percent of the
people responding to its survey had asked for their
credit score at least once in the past year, up from 49
percent in 2014.
Phillip Day, president of the Academy of Financial
Literacy, takes issue with the way the federationís
survey was constructed and the reportís suggestion
that todayís consumers have less understanding of whatís
involved in their credit scores.
society is much more educated on credit, credit scores
and the credit bureaus and how they work," said
Day, whose organization is based in Chandler, Ariz.
"The internet, various television commercials and
advertisements and free access is advertised for free
credit reports reaching millions more about credit
scores and how they work."
Beauregard, executive director of Consumers United
Association, agreed that credit scores are easily
accessible online but she said few consumers take it the
next step and relate that information with a credit
report providing details about their score.
banks and credit unions now provide an easy online tool
to get your credit score with the push of a
button," Beauregard said. "So many people
probably do click on that and get the score, but they
arenít correlating it with their credit report."
Medora, seeing her credit score jeopardized got her to
track of your credit report and score will help you get
an idea of how each change affects you," Medora
said. "I knew too many inquiries (for new credit)
would drop my score, but I didnít know by how many
points or that just one inquiry would change my score
until that happened."
said she regularly checks her score now. But suggests
that for people just getting started using a tracker to
help monitor your credit is OK, because itís
"easier to understand than a full report."
Thereís nothing wrong about starting with the basics,
is definitely power when it comes to your credit score.
Just knowing your score is a good start so you can be
aware if it goes up or down," Medora said.