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Credit Score Report

This archive includes all the weekly Credit Score Report columns addressing reader questions regarding credit scores and credit reports. Ask a question of Credit Score Report.

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Opening 3 cards at once dings credit score -- Unlike rapid-fire applications for mortgages or car loans, which are bundled into a single credit score hit, each card application counts against you ... (See Credit score)

Old-school phone scammers make comeback with modern twist -- Old-school telephone fraud is making a comeback as fraudsters are again more likely to contact you by phone than through websites or email ... (See Telephone scams)

How closing cards and student loans affects FICO scores -- Keeping cards active and paying loans on time is best way to maintain a strong credit score ... (See Credit scores)

Don't expect big score boost when unpaid debt falls off credit report -- Is an old debt, charged off seven years ago, finally falling off your credit report? Sorry, but there's not likely to be a big rise in your score. It could even fall ... (See Old debts)

Not all free credit scores are created equal -- More than 25 million credit cardholders now have regular access to a credit score through their credit card issuers, but that free score may not be the comprehensive, tell-all number you think it is. ... (See Scores)

Checklist for new graduates looking to rent 1st apartment -- New graduates faced with a tough job market have to crunch the numbers before deciding whether they can afford to leave the nest and get an apartment of their own ... (See 1st apartment)

Tips for building credit before renting a home -- Landlords commonly check the credit history of potential renters; knowing and polishing yours can hand you the keys to a new home ... (See Credit check)

Adding a spouse as authorized card user to boost score -- Couples looking to buy a house can buff their team credit score by having the person with better credit add the partner with worse credit as an authorized card user ... (See Score)

2013 bankruptcy filings continue decline -- 2013 is on track to be the third straight year of reduced filings since 2010, when the aftermath of the recession pushed personal bankruptcies to about 1.53 million ... (See Bankruptcy)

Bankruptcies fell 14% in 2012, continuing 2-year decline -- Bankruptcy filings for 2012 year show a 14 percent fall, following a 12 percent decline the prior year, as America continues its shaky economic recovery ... (See Bankruptcies fall)

5 traits that go along with a lower credit score -- Paying your bills on time may help you achieve a high credit score, but studies say there are unexpected traits that correlate to your score as well ... (See Credit score traits)

Infographic: Post-recession shifts in credit scores -- Americans' post-recession credit scores have shifted, says FICO, with fewer people clustered at the ends of the scale and more people in the middle ... (See Credit scores)

Jeremy M. Simon: What everyone should know about credit reports and scores -- For my final column, I've written a letter to readers that summarizes what you really need to know about credit scores and reports. ... (See Credit reports)

Why closing a credit card can damage your credit -- After the bank hiked the annual fee on his credit card, a reader reacted by closing the account, which lowered his credit score. Our expert explains why that happened ... (See Closing a credit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: In honor of 100th column, Jeremy M. Simon's 3 favorite credit scoring questions -- For my 100th column addressing reader questions on credit scores and reports, I've taken a look back at some of emails that most surprised, challenged or amused me. ... (See Credit Score Report)

Jeremy M. Simon: Mending a credit score hurt by a student loan default -- A reader who defaulted on a co-signed student loan wonders whether a debt settlement is the best path to rebuilding her high credit score ... (See Student loan default)

Jeremy M. Simon: In U.K., unheeded court order can clobber your credit -- A U.K. reader learns that a county court judgment that wasn't repaid within one month can tarnish his credit for years ... (See UK credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Divorce doesn't dissolve credit card contracts -- A reader who shared a credit card with her ex-husband finds out the existing card contract means divorce isn't enough to get her name taken off that account ... (See Credit cards and divorce)

Jeremy M. Simon: Authorized user's bad credit won't hurt primary cardholder -- A reader with bad credit worries that becoming an authorized user on her friend's credit card with lower her friend's credit score. ... (See Authorized users)

Jeremy M. Simon: Canceling credit cards may sound wise, but is it? -- A mortgage lender's recommendation that a reader close his unused credit cards may have helped him obtain a mortgage, but it could hurt his credit score -- and his chances with future lenders. ... (See Canceling credit cards)

Jeremy M. Simon: Don't let bad credit keep you from landing a job -- Although some employers consider job applicants' credit histories when making hiring decisions, bad credit doesn't have to keep you from finding work ... (See Credit scores and jobs)

Jeremy M. Simon: A late payment doesn't always mean a lower credit score -- If you're just a little late with a payment, your credit score may not take a hit. Just don't make a habit of it ... (See Late payments)

Jeremy M. Simon: In credit scoring, a good payment history trumps all -- Don't worry about removing an old delinquent account from your credit report, our expert says. It's more important to have a strong payment history than a long one ... (See Payment history and FICO scores)

Jeremy M. Simon: No longer want to be an authorized user? Just ask -- It's simple to be removed as an authorized user on a credit card. Just don't expect it to come off your credit report easily ... (See Authorized user)

Jeremy M. Simon: Beware of interest charged on closed accounts in debt collection -- Collection agencies are allowed to charge you interest on debts in closed credit card accounts -- unless your card contract or state law says otherwise ... (See Interest on debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: Unfamiliar names on credit report could signal ID theft -- The presence of unfamiliar names on your credit report could have a simple explanation, such as your use of a nickname or some type of error -- or it could be the result of identity theft ... (See Check your credit report)

Jeremy M. Simon: Can you remove a bankruptcy from your credit report? -- If you do a strategic bankruptcy filing -- but the move is never completed -- you may be able to have any mention of it removed from your credit report, but it won't be easy ... (See Bankruptcy)

Jeremy M. Simon: Credit report history seem too short? Contact your issuer -- Credit history can be a tricky thing, especially if you're not the primary person on a credit card account. But if you're ever unclear, don't hesitate to call the issuer, our expert says ... (See Authorized users' credit history)

Jeremy M. Simon: Why closing your oldest credit card may be a bad idea -- Considering closing an old card and getting a newer, cheaper one? You may be doing yourself -- and your credit score -- a disservice ... (See Closing a credit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: Will unpaid restitution slam ex-con's credit? -- A reader is concerned that his nephew -- who was recently released from prison -- can't make restitution payments, which could end up damaging the nephew's credit history ... (See Prison and credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Frequent car rentals with debit card shouldn't clobber credit -- Renting a car with a debit card may result in a credit check that lowers your credit score. But industry experts say borrowing cars from the same rental agency more than once a month shouldn't increase the damage ... (See Renting a car with debit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: Want accurate, negative info off your credit report? Good luck -- A reader wonders if she could request that she could have some negative information removed from her credit report. Not likely, if the data is accurate. ... (See Credit report)

Jeremy M. Simon: No Social Security number, no credit reporting? -- A woman made her son an authorized user on a card, but didn't provide his Social Security number and wonders if the card will still appear on his credit report ... (See Credit scores)

Jeremy M. Simon: Canceling a card with a balance doesn't have to hurt -- A reader asks how much credit score damage she can expect after closing a credit card that still has an outstanding balance ... (See Cancel credit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: Who's to blame for mom's falling FICO? -- A mother thinks her falling FICO score may be the fault of her financially troubled daughter. But a look at the mom's credit reports will confirm who's really to blame. ... (See Credit score)

Jeremy M. Simon: How to shrink debt-to-income ratio while on Social Security -- A reader on Social Security wants to improve her debt-to-income ratio in order to qualify for a home loan. Can it be done? ... (See Debt-to-income ratio)

Jeremy M. Simon: Lost a court case? Your credit score could take a hit -- A reader facing a lawsuit after a car accident needs to protect herself from the credit score impact from any resulting judgment against her ... (See Lawsuits and credit scores)

Jeremy M. Simon: Settling delinquent debt won't remove it from your credit report -- A reader wants to get old delinquent debt off his credit report. Our expert says that unless the debt isn't really his, he's out of luck and debt will stay there for seven years ... (See Delinquent debts)

Jeremy M. Simon: Scheming to ruin an ex's credit score isn't wise -- A woman with lousy credit wants to ruin her ex-boyfriend's good credit by adding him as an authorized user on her card account. But should she reconsider her plan? ... (See Piggybacking scheme)

Jeremy M. Simon: Want a new card? Focus on the 3 keys to building good credit -- A reader wants to improve his chances of getting approved for a new credit card. But is closing older accounts and leaving balances unpaid the right approach? ... (See Good credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Credit card bill lost in the mail? You still have to pay it -- A postal service mistake doesn't relieve you of the duty to pay your bills, but those who pay faithfully can often catch a break -- before the goof damages their credit scores ... (See Bill lost in the mail)

Jeremy M. Simon: Experian aims to make credit reports more readable -- A reader asks about some language he hadn't seen on his credit report before. Our expert says it's part of a tweak that one major credit bureau recently finished ... (See Experian credit report)

Jeremy M. Simon: Credit check by car rental firm won't hurt score for long -- Car rental agencies may run a credit check when you rent a vehicle with a debit card, but don't worry: It won't do much damage to your credit score ... (See Debit rental credit check)

Jeremy M. Simon: What to expect when you're made an authorized user on a credit card -- A mother wonders whether making her teenage son an authorized user on her credit card will help pass on her good credit score to her teen ... (See Authorized users)

Jeremy M. Simon: What to do with an inaccurate address on a credit report -- A reader whose credit reports list addresses associated with her ex-husband shouldn't worry, but she should take action. Our expert lays out what she should do ... (See Credit report)

Jeremy M. Simon: Don't fear credit score drop when applying for new card -- Applying for a new card may trim a few points from your credit score, but it shouldn't last -- as long as you use the new card wisely ... (See Credit score drop)

Jeremy M. Simon: Angry about the credit scoring system? Here's who to complain to -- Consumers with complaints about the U.S. credit scoring system -- and there are many -- will soon be getting a powerful new ally in the form of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Just don't expect a miracle overnight ... (See Credit scoring system)

Jeremy M. Simon: Requesting a teen's credit report isn't child's play -- A mom looking to get a copy of her teenage son's credit report finds that the process can be quite a challenge ... (See Obtaining a teenager's credit report)

Jeremy M. Simon: Rent-to-own home payments unlikely to aid credit score -- A wife looking to improve her and her husband's credit scores shouldn't rely only on the rent-to-own payments for her new house ... (See Rent-to-own and credit)

Help! The bank keeps cutting my card's credit limit -- A cardholder who racked up a large amount of debt wants to know why the bank keeps lowering his credit limit ... (See Credit limits)

Jeremy M. Simon: How loan applications hurt your credit score -- When applying for a loan, be prepared for a small ding to your credit score as lenders check your creditworthiness ... (See Hard inquiry)

Jeremy M. Simon: Business card debt may hurt credit, even after the company is sold -- A former business owner wonders whether his old company's unpaid debt could show up on his personal credit report ... (See Business credit cards)

Jeremy M. Simon: Apartment security deposit dispute stains renter's credit report -- A renter learns that removing apartment damage fees from his credit report will require a solid case and good negotiating skills. ... (See Credit report damage)

Jeremy M. Simon: How late is too late for a credit card payment? -- A one-day late payment shouldn't appear on a borrower's credit report, but the bank may not be so forgiving of future delinquencies ... (See Late payment)

Jeremy M. Simon: Will an unwanted card hurt your credit? -- A reader seeking an "exclusive" Chase credit card doesn't want his score to be affected by closing an unwanted version of the card ... (See Closing card accounts)

Jeremy M. Simon: Unused, old cards can help your credit score -- A reader worries -- unnecessarily -- that an old credit card from his college days could be hurting his credit. ... (See Unused credit cards)

Jeremy M. Simon: Running up credit card debt, declaring bankruptcy a bad idea -- A reader's plan to max out his credit cards before declaring bankruptcy has some serious problems, our expert says. ... (See Bankruptcy fraud)

Jeremy M. Simon: No quick fixes for removing late payment from credit report -- A loan applicant wants to know how he can delete a late payment from his credit report in an effort to boost his credit score. ... (See Late payment)

Jeremy M. Simon: Relocating overseas can cause major credit headaches -- After returning to India, a cardholder wants to maintain his credit history in the States with some new U.S. plastic ... (See U.S. credit history)

Jeremy M. Simon: Is a widow responsible for late husband's debt? It depends -- A widow living in Minnesota wonders whether her credit report should reflect her deceased husband's charged-off credit card account. ... (See Debt and death)

Jeremy M. Simon: Can you freeze an individual credit card? -- While a credit freeze will restrict the opening of new accounts in a borrower's name, it takes a different approach to temporarily prevent the use of an existing accoun ... (See Credit freeze)

Jeremy M. Simon: 3 reasons you and your lender may disagree on your credit score -- A reader in the process of refinancing wants to know why his bank has selected a 'fishy' credit score for its lending decision. ... (See Credit scores)

Jeremy M. Simon: 20-year-old debt should not come back to haunt you -- While credit histories typically benefit from repaying debts, in the case of 20 year old credit card account, it may be better to ignore a creditor's request for payment ... (See Old debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: Patient's age determines whether unpaid medical debt owed -- A reader's dad was supposed to pay her medical bills, but then he fell on hard times. Now collectors are coming after her. Our expert says the right course of action for her depends on what her age was when she accrued the debt ... (See Medical debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: Correcting credit report errors is crucial, but not always easy -- A reader vents about his struggles to get some errors fixed on his credit report. While fixing these mistakes can be burdensome, doing so will pay dividends in the long run ... (See Fix credit report mistakes)

Jeremy M. Simon: Can quickly repaying a car loan help to rebuild credit? -- A reader asks whether quickly repaying a car loan will not only save money but also help her to rebuild credit in time for a home purchase. ... (See Car loan and credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Canceled credit cards don't leave your credit report quickly -- A reader wants to remove some old, rarely-used credit card accounts from her credit report. Our expert tells her why that's not always a good idea. ... (See Canceling credit cards)

Jeremy M. Simon: When a parent's 'favor' can ruin your credit -- A reader is an authorized user on his dad's small business card. However, his credit is taking a hit as dad's business has fallen on hard times. Our expert says the reader should remove himself from that account ASAP. ... (See Authorized user)

Jeremy M. Simon: More than retail cards needed for an excellent FICO score -- Retail credit cards, if used responsibly, can earn the cardholder a good -- but not great -- credit score. To take your score higher, you'll need a mix of cards ... (See Raise your FICO score)

Jeremy M. Simon: F-words foul up the process of getting a FICO score -- A reader may be lost in a sea of acronyms when he confuses the Freedom of Information Act with FCRA, FACTA and FICO. ... (See FICO score)

Jeremy M. Simon: Cardholders must fight to correct credit report errors -- Consumers need to take advantage of consumer protection law by disputing credit reporting errors with both the bank and credit bureau. ... (See Credit report errors)

Jeremy M. Simon: Charge card balances won't impact a FICO credit score -- Although the balances on credit cards are used in the calculation of credit scores, that isn't the case for charge card accounts. ... (See Charge cards)

Credit Card FAQ: Jeremy M. Simon: Will canceling a credit card hurt your credit score? -- Each day this week, our columnists will answer one of our readers' most frequently asked questions. Our series continues with a focus on credit scoring. ... (See Cancel a credit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: Different websites provide very different credit scores -- Very different credit scores from two separate websites lead a reader to question the credit scoring system. ... (See Credit scores)

Jeremy M. Simon: What exactly is a 'pre-screened' or 'pre-approved' credit card offer? -- The term "pre-screened" describes card offers that banks have targeted to certain consumers based on their borrowing histories and other personal information ... (See Pre-screened)

Refinancing won't do lasting credit score damage -- A responsible borrower who refinances his properties is unlikely to see lasting credit score damage ... (See Refinancing)

Authorized user can't be legally responsible for tax payment -- Though it may be a noble idea, an authorized cardholder who got into debt trouble can't take on the tax burden for the friend whose credit he damaged. ... (See 1099-C)

Pay off your balance each month? Your credit report may not show it -- A family's conscientious but high-charging ways could be bad for their credit scores. ... (See Credit scores and balances)

Husband's card defaults don't need to weigh on wife's credit -- Although a husband's debt defaults show up on his wife's credit report, she should be able to clear those negative items ... (See Ex-spouse's credit default)

Taking on more credit won't hurt a good credit score -- A responsible borrower's good credit score won't be hurt -- and might even improve -- when taking on additional credit. ... (See How adding credit affects your score)

Free FICO scores exist, but aren't easy to come by -- Free credit scores do exist and are relatively easy to find, but the tricky part is getting the scores lenders actually use ... (See Free credit score)

Deceased cardholder's debts can hurt authorized user's credit score -- When a credit cardholder passes away leaving unpaid debt, authorized account users can be left facing the credit score impact ... (See Authorized users, death and debt)

Unpaid traffic citations can lower drivers' credit scores -- If you think you can ignore an out-of-state traffic ticket, it can hurt in an unexpected way: damage to your credit score ... (See Unpaid tickets hurt credit score)

Even barely late payments can impact your credit score -- If you're late with a payment -- but fewer than 30 days late -- does your credit score take a hit? The answer's not so simple. ... (See Late payments and credit scores)

Nonactivated cards can still impact a credit score -- A credit card that hasn't been activated may represent a security threat, but in the calculation of your credit score, an inactive card account's existence -- or its closure -- isn't treated differently than any other credit card ... (See Inactive credit card)

Responsible borrowing can protect credit score from limit cuts -- When the bank cuts a cardholder's line of credit -- a common occurence in recent years -- a history of responsible borrowing can protect against credit scoring damage. ... (See Credit scores)

Look to credit reports to understand loan denials -- A reader wondering why he was rejected for a credit card loan should turn to his credit report to understand why the lender made the move ... (See Credit reports)

To preserve credit score, don't leave credit cards unused -- If maintaining your credit score is a primary concern, don't leave credit cards unused. ... (See Credit score)

Focus on finances -- not your credit score -- when repaying a loan -- The decision to repay a loan rapidly should be more about your finances than your credit score. ... (See Early repayment plan)

'Hard' inquiries have limited credit score impact -- Lenders' inquiries into a borrowers' credit history can drop their credit score -- but not by much. ... (See Credit score)

Credit score suffers from being caught in 'balance chasing' loop -- "Balance chasing" by banks can leave borrowers with lower credit limits and credit scores ... (See Credit score)

Parents shouldn't pay for child's late card payments -- Parents who are listed as authorized users on their child's credit card account shouldn't have to suffer credit score damage when the child makes late payments. ... (See Score damage)

High balance on just one card can hurt credit score -- Check your credit score and keep all your cards' balances low or you could upset your attempt to refinance a home ... (See Balance hurts refi odds)

Canceling a card can hurt your credit score -- Forced to choose between paying a new fee on your credit card or closing the account? Consider the impact on your credit score. ... (See Canceling a card)

Piggybacking's just one step en route to a better credit score -- Borrowers who want to boost their credit scores need to examine their own credit reports first before becoming authorized cardholders on other accounts. ... (See Piggyback)

When refinancing, closing credit card accounts can cost you -- When in the midst of a home refinancing and considering an account closure, experts say the price of credit score damage is likely to outweigh the cost of any potential annual fees. ... (See Loan)

Sharing a roof with a parent doesn't mean sharing their bankruptcy -- Adult children who share an address with a parent don't also need to share the credit score damage when that parent files for bankruptcy. ... (See Bankruptcy)

Business mistakes can appear on personal credit report -- Business mistakes shouldn't impact your personal credit -- unless you've provided your personal guarantee. ... (See Credit)

Consider these options before co-signing for a card -- Considering co-signing for your son or daughter's credit card? Know that if you do, you'll bear as much legal responsibility for paying that debt off as he or she will. ... (See Co-signing)

Piggybacking is still an option, but proceed with caution -- If you're looking to help boost a FICO score, piggybacking as an authorized user on a spouse's credit card account remains an option. But if you're looking to pay to do it, you might be out of luck. ... (See Piggybacking)

Looking to disappear? Deleting your credit history is far from easy -- Erasing your existing credit report is nearly impossible, although you can try to delete parts of your borrowing history. ... (See Erase)

How your credit utilization ratio is calculated -- The calculation of your credit score combines a wide-angle view of your total combined credit utilization -- including any authorized credit card accounts -- with a close-up view of each individual credit card account. ... (See Credit utilization)

New arrivals to U.S. need to rebuild credit history -- Credit history from a foreign country won't follow you to the United States, although existing financial relationships can help you begin to build a U.S. credit history. ... (See Rebuild)

Cardholders' mistakes can bring down authorized users' credit score -- When you're an authorized user on someone else's credit card account, you pay the price for other's credit mistakes. Luckily, you can take steps to minimize the damage. ... (See Piggybacking)

How fast does your credit score recover from your goofs? -- If you make smart decisions, those old credit goofs will hurt your score less and less over time. How much less? Well, that's still a bit of a mystery. ... (See Recovery)

Improving a great credit score comes down to timing -- Bad timing can hurt even high credit scores. But if you watch when you pay your bills, that may help bump up your score a bit. ... (See Timing)

Don't expect to see cellphone payment history on your credit report -- Don't look for your cellphone provider to report your payment history -- good or bad -- to credit bureaus, unless you're so late with payments that they opt to close your account. ... (See Cellphone payments and your credit)

Decade-old credit mistakes shouldn't appear on your report -- A delinquent loan should no longer appear on your credit report if the loan's more than seven years old. But if it does, take steps to remove it ASAP. ... (See Mistakes)

How going to jail impacts your credit -- Having zero-balance credit cards go unused during an 18-month prison sentence shouldn't cause a cardholder's credit to suffer -- unless the issuer decides to close the idle account. ... (See Jail)

How many credit cards do you need? There's no perfect answer -- There's no single, easy answer for how many credit cards someone should have. After all, It's not the number of cards you have, it's what you do with them that matters the most ... (See How many credit cards?)

Opting out of APR increase doesn't have to impact your credit -- It's a common question these days: Will opting out of a rate increase hurt my credit? The answer isn't so clear-cut. ... (See Score)

Want a better FICO score? Step No. 1: Pay bills on time -- Paying your bills on time every time is vital, but it's just the start to building a good credit score. ... (See FICO)

How to make sure your credit score is a FICO score -- Credit score seem just a bit too high? You may not have bought the ever-popular FICO score. But don't feel bad, our expert says. It's an easy mistake to make. ... (See FICO)

Want a free FICO score? You're out of luck -- If you think you'll get a free FICO score with your free credit report at, you're mistaken. If you want your FICO score, you'll have to pay. ... (See FICO)