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Minimum Requirements for a FICO Score

While many consumers fret over having low credit scores, others, including many seniors and young adults, face a less discussed challenge: Having no FICO score at all. Many of these folks, especially those with long credit histories, are clueless as to why they have no score.  Hopefully this post will explain why.

In order to have a FICO score, you must meet these three requirements:

  • Have no death certificate or death notation in your credit file;
  • Have at least one account in your credit file that’s a minimum of 6 months old;
  • Have at least one account in your credit file that has been updated in the last 6 months.

These criteria make it easy to see why college students or retirees who’ve paid off their mortgages, cars and other debts long ago have no scores. Remember that even positive tradelines can be removed from your report after 10 years.

A Cautionary Tale about Co-Signing a Mortgage

There’s a great post on LearnVest about what happens to your credit when a mortgage that you’ve co-signed defaults.

Even though the piece was meant as a cautionary tale and the author turned to the Frequently-Wrong-About-Credit Suze Orman for  advice, it’s interesting to note that within a year of the mortgage defaulting the author’s score had recovered to 698 – which is actually above the 2012 median U.S. FICO score of 690 and just two points shy of the coveted 700 club. Also, I was a tad disappointed the author didn’t point out that most of the questionable tactics undertaken by her credit card issuers have since been outlawed by the CARD ACT of 2009 and that even if her friend succeeds with a short sale, it will have the same effect on her credit score as a foreclosure.

Despite my credit-geek nitpicking, it’s a moving piece that provides yet more evidence that a friend who will knowingly trash your credit is a friend you’re better off without.

Introducing the Seemly.com AAOA Calculator

In our ongoing efforts to help you build or maintain excellent credit, we’re proud to announce the release of the Seemly.com AAOA Calculator.

While there are a few good Excel templates and tutorials explaining how to manually calculate your AAOA out there, these tools weren’t for everyone and there remained a sizeable pool of consumers unable to determine this fairly important component of their credit scores.  To address this, we decided to produce a simple online tool that anyone capable of using a browser and mouse could use.

We hope you enjoy it.

P.S. – Although we worked really hard on the calculator and did a lot of testing, note that it is being released in a Beta phase. If you spot any issues, please let us know.

Test your Credit Knowledge

The Consumer Federation of America has created a 21-question “Credit Score Quiz” designed to test your knowledge about credit at creditscorequiz.org

The quiz is sponsored by VantageScore, the credit score created by the Big Three credit bureaus, so a number of the questions and answers go to the great lengths making it clear that the FICO score is not the only credit score out there.

My only issue with this is that someone totally new to the credit world would leave the quiz without being responsibly informed that FICO is the only score that will count for nearly every important credit decision. Notwithstanding that, I think the quiz is a good basic education resource about personal credit and I encourage you to give it a spin.

Credit Bureaus Now Under Government Supervision

In a surprise announcement, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the newly created federal agency responsible for protecting consumer rights, confirmed that it will begin direct oversight of credit reporting agencies (including Experian, Equifax and Trans Union) on September 30th. Although there are a bevy of laws in place pertaining to credit data, this represents the first time that the credit bureaus themselves will face government supervision.

Here is the official announcement.

It’s about time. I wonder how the credit bureaus feel about someone checking their credit.

I hope the result of this move will be credit bureaus that are more responsive to the law and consumers, especially those struggling to have errors corrected, instead of the arrogant, unresponsive gatekeepers they often are today.

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