FICO frequent Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

A: A credit score is an indication of your credit history and a measurement of your ability to pay off debt.

A: No. Credit score systems do not keep data on race, religion, marital status, nationality, or sex.

A: No. Lenders use a number of facts to make credit decisions, including your FICO score. They look at information such as the amount of debt you can handle given your income, your employment history, and your credit history. Based on their perception of this information as well as their specific underwriting policies, lenders may extend credit to you although your FICO score is low, or decline your request for credit although your FICO score is high.

While FICO scores are the most commonly used credit risk scores in the US, lenders may use other scores to evaluate your credit risk. These include:

  • Application risk scores. Lenders use a scoring systems that includes the FICO score but also consider information from your credit application.
  • Customer risk scores. A lender may use these scores to make credit decisions on its current customers. Also called behavior scores. These scores consider the FICO score along with information on how you have paid that lender in the past.
  • Other credit scores. These scores may evaluate your credit report differently than FICO scores and in some cases a higher score may mean more risk, not less risk, as with FICO scores. When purchasing a credit score for yourself make sure to get the FICO score as this is the score most lenders use when making credit decisions.

A: Your FICO score can change whenever your credit report changes. But your score probably will not change much from one month to the next. In a given three month time period only about one in four people has a 20 point change in their FICO score.

While a bankruptcy or late payments can lower your FICO score fast, improving your score takes time. That is why it is a good idea to check your score 6-12 months before applying for a large loan, so you have time to take action if needed. If you are actively working to improve your FICO score you want to check it quarterly to review changes.

A: If your credit report contains errors it is often because the report is incomplete or contains information about someone else. This typically happens because:

  • You applied for credit under different names. Mary Jones, Mary Jones-Smith, etc.
  • Someone made a clerical error in reading or entering your name or address from a hand­ written application.
  • You gave an inaccurate Social Security number or the number was misread by the lender.
  • A loan or credit card information was inadvertently applied to the wrong account.