freecreditscore.comTM tells consumers, “Give yourself some credit”
New survey data indicates most Americans understand the consequences of a low credit score — but there’s room for improvement, using three important “literacy lessons”
Costa Mesa, Calif., April 24, 2013 — freecreditscore.comTM today announced the findings of a recent survey showing that while many Americans understand how low credit scores can lead to reduced buying power, there is less recognition that high scores may indicate it’s the “right time” to buy. In addition, while nearly half of respondents (49 percent) said they check their credit scores at least once per year, the rest (42 percent) check once every two years or less, including a worrisome percentage of respondents (22 percent) who never check.
In response to this data, freecreditscore.com selected National Financial Literacy Month (April) to kick off its Give Yourself Some Credit education campaign — recognizing that it’s time to focus on the positive efforts Americans make to get a handle on debt and credit management.
“There are a lot of negative personal finance indicators highlighted in the news,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for freecreditscore.com. “While there are lessons to be learned in those statistics, Americans have improved their credit management, debt reduction and payment consistency. It’s been — and continues to be — a hard road, so we want to say, ‘Give yourself some credit’ for that improvement. That’s going to be our theme for credit management education over the next 12 months.”
In the spirit of National Financial Literacy Month, freecreditscore.com offers three simple credit “Literacy Lessons,” inspired by the survey data:
• Literacy Lesson No. 1: Keep checking credit scores often. Credit score awareness can warn of possible identity theft. A sudden, unexpected score drop may indicate fraudulent credit applications or default on a fraudulent loan. Currently, 49 percent of Americans check their credit scores at least once per year. We say, “Give yourself some credit!” (However, 22 percent never check.)
• Literacy Lesson No. 2: Big plans? Plan ahead. According to the survey, significant expenses, including a home (31 percent), an automobile (32 percent) or a loan (28 percent), are the most common reasons for checking a credit score. Poor credit scores can interfere with those big life plans, but building and maintaining good credit can positively affect interest rates and save consumers thousands of dollars. The survey also showed that most people understand that they should check their scores before applying for a loan. That’s reason to say, “Give yourself some credit!” (Sixty-five percent of respondents also checked their scores “just to know,” and that’s not a bad thing.)
• Literacy Lesson No. 3: A credit score can help inform purchase decisions. Understanding the impact credit-to-debt ratio has on a credit score is the sign of a savvy consumer. Online tools such as the freecreditscore.com Score Planner™ show how credit-related actions can impact scores. Commendably, per the survey, more than 75 percent of Americans would minimize credit use or postpone large purchases — or both — if they discovered they had a low credit score. Definitely, we say “Give yourself some credit!” At the opposite end, there’s opportunity for improvement. Surprisingly, if they had a high credit score, 65 percent of respondents said it would not influence them to consider large purchases sooner than planned. That decision might cost them better interest rates down the road if their scores drop before making those purchases.
The data points referenced above come from a study commissioned by Experian, produced by research firm Edelman Berland and conducted as an online omnibus survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,201 American adults ages 18 to 65 and older. Interviewing took place from April 1–4, 2013. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.
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freecreditscore.com, which features the patented online Score PlannerTM tool, is part of a family of online consumer credit management sites belonging to ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company. ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. was founded in 1995 to give consumers quick, easy and inexpensive access to their credit profile. It is now the leading provider of online consumer credit reports, credit scores, credit monitoring and other credit-related information. ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. provides credit monitoring to its more than 3.1 million members and has delivered more than 20 million credit reports on the Web. As part of the Experian family, it continues to grow its membership base and develop innovative products to help consumers better understand and manage their credit.
Experian® is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.
Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2012 was US$4.5 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 44 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.
For more information, visit http://www.experianplc.com.
Experian and the Experian marks used herein are service marks or registered trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.