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The 10 Greatest Myths About Credit

Feb 5, 2008
In this article, I will expose some of the most common myths about credit and credit reports. I love watching the expression on my client's faces when they realize the truth about some of these common myths.

You will be hearing some things that will most likely be the opposite of what you currently believe. Keep in mind that credit and credit reports are not widely understood, and even those in the financial and credit industry, often do not have a good understanding. With that in mind, let's get started

Myth 1: Paying off (or "settling") late payments, tax liens, collections or judgments will remove them from your credit reports.

This is simply not true. In fact, by paying off an old collection account, you can actually lower your credit scores. The reason for this is because more recent negative items will hurt your score more than older negative items. If you pay off an old collection account, not only will the collection account remain on your reports as a paid collection, but it will now show a current date, and cost your more points. I am not suggesting that you should not pay off your delinquent accounts, only that you need to understand the consequences so that you can factor that into your decision.

Myth 2: If I pay my total credit card balance every month, I will raise my credit scores.

If the credit system were designed by your financial advisor, this would be a great plan, however, since the system was designed by your creditors, in order to maximize your credit scores, you need to give them what they want to see. What the credit card companies like is for a client to pay only a little more than the minimum payment, on time, every month. Occasionally paying down your balances slightly is ok. This behavior will maximize your credit scores.

Myth 3: Credit repair is not legal.

Very false! Credit repair is not only perfectly legal; it is actually protected by federal law. For more information on the law, you can refer to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It is legal for you to repair your own credit, as well as hire anyone you choose to do it on your behalf.

Myth 4: Credit Counseling (CCCS) programs will raise my credit scores.

Credit counseling programs will only harm your credit. The first thing that will happen as a result of enrolling in a CCCS or credit counseling program, is that your creditors will add the line "Account in CCCS" or "Account paid through credit counseling" to each of their trade lines. This will not affect your score, but does look very negative to lenders. The next thing that seems to always happen is that the credit counseling program will make the payments to your creditors late. Sometimes this is not their fault since they just setup the payment to be on your original due date. However, the credit card companies often adjust your due date, and since nobody, like yourself, is monitoring this, they began making your payments late. This will result in late pays on your credit, in addition to late fees.

Myth 5: The law requires that negative items stay listed on my credit for 7 years.

This is not true. The law only states that an item can remain for as long as 7 years, if it can be proven to be true and accurately reported. Some items such as bankruptcy, can remain for as long as 10 years. There is no law that states that any item has to remain on your credit for any set period.

Myth 6: Making a lot of money will give you good credit.

Actually, your credit scores are made up of several factors such as payment history, account balances, types of credit in use, etc. Your income is not one of those factors that determine your credit scores.

Myth 7: As long as I have never been late on a payment, I will have great credit.

Your timeliness of payments does make up 35% of your credit scores, but the other 65% is made up of other factors that are not related to making your payments on time. It is important to understand all those factors to maximize your scores.

Myth 8: Your credit reports will be identical from each of the 3 major credit bureaus.

This is not true. In fact, most of the time, all 3 of your credit reports will differ from one another. The reason for this is that each of the credit bureaus is a separate independent company, and the processes at each are different. Also, some creditors may only report to 1 or 2 bureaus, but not all 3. In my experience, your reports will very rarely be exactly the same.

Myth 9: Once you are married, you and your spouse share the same credit.

This is not true at all. Even if you are married, you will still have your own unique credit reports. It is possible to see some shared items if you have joint accounts, but your credit reports are yours.

Myth 10: Closing credit card accounts will increase your credit scores.

This is one of the biggest surprises that I see happen to people all the time. You go to your mortgage lender and they instruct you to close some accounts in order to qualify for a loan. You do as you are told, but only to see your scores plummet almost immediately; sometimes by more than 100 points. What happened? The reason for the drop was because you just closed some of your oldest and most valuable accounts as far as your credit scores were concerned. Remember, the longer you have had an account in good standing, the more positive points it will provide. It is not advised to close a long-standing account unless you have good reason.

Now that you are armed with this powerful knowledge, you can get on the road to optimizing your credit today.
About the Author
With over a decade of experience, Jon Ochs is the founder and CEO of NCA Credit Repair, one of the most respected credit repair services organizations. The website contains tons of free credit resources and information.
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