Topic 4: Understanding Your Credit Report & Score

Core Content Resources

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Credit Report- what you need to know (Ppt Presentation); Script; Handout (NEFE): Workshop Kit: Presents information to help people in all phases of life demystify the credit report and related credit score. (what is a credit score, who can request a credit report, credit report errors, how to block, freeze, resources, dispute letter). By downloading, you are agreeing to NEFE Content License Agreements

List of Consumer Reporting Companies; (website) (CFPB) The list includes the three nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) and several other reporting companies that focus on certain market areas and consumer segments. The list gives you tips so you can determine which of these companies may be important to you. It also makes it easier for you to take advantage of your legal rights to (1) obtain the information in your consumer reports, and (2) dispute suspected inaccuracies in your reports with companies as needed.

What is a good credit score? (website) ( Helpful visual on how credit scores affect how much you will pay in interest for vehicle loan, home loan, credit card rates, etc. If you’ve ever attempted to purchase a big-ticket item, such as a house or a car, the financing company likely spoke to you about your credit score. This is one of the most defining factors lenders take into consideration to determine whether or not to give you a loan.

Credit Workshop Packet (pdf) (Catholic Charities, from, nerd wallet, FTC, credit Information, quiz, and worksheet about what is considered a good credit score, different types of credit cards, credit quiz, how to improve your credit score, information listed in a credit report, credit report review worksheet.

Requesting your Free Credit Reports (PDF) (CFPB): Tool: Information on how to request a free credit report, and tool for identifying a plan for when to request your credit reports from the 3 different companies (Understanding Credit Reports and Scores, Experian, Equifax, TransUnion,

My Credit/Debt Management Plan (pdf) (Community Vision): Tool: a worksheet that identifies credit goals and outlines a plan to improve credit. (Credit, Credit Building, Establishing Credit, Repairing Credit, Debt)

Getting and Keeping a Good Credit History (pdf) (CFPB): Tool: Tips on habits and strategies for improving and maintaining your credit history (Understanding Credit Reports and Scores)

Economic Literacy Resources

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Advancing Equity: The Power and Promise of Credit Building (Asset Funders Network) Wealth is the value of personal assets minus debts. Credit plays a role on both sides of the equation. Credit is a systemic measure of financial health, a necessary gateway for accessing other economic opportunities, and an essential ingredient for economic security and mobility.

Kept Out: For people of color, banks are shutting the door to homeownership (Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez) (article) Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in lending, African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts. Lenders and their trade organizations do not dispute the fact that they turn away people of color at rates far greater than whites. But they maintain that the disparity can be explained by factors the industry has fought to keep hidden, including the prospective borrowers’ credit history and overall debt-to-income ratio.

Black Debt, White Debt () (article)  Racial discrimination shapes who feels debt as a crushing burden and who experiences debt as an opportunity. U.S. financial products and rules, and the ways they’re implemented, amplify this inequality along racial lines. Credit access is a status marker in the United States, with “good” credit and “good” debt valued. Black debt and White debt are conceptual guides to multiple racialized dimensions of debt: first, the different worlds of debt products (e.g., title loan companies versus American Express); second, differential terms on the same products, like discriminatory interest rates; and third, the differential returns on debt for White and Black families. 

From Inherent Racial Bias to Incorrect Data—The Problems With Current Credit Scoring Models (Natalie Campisi and Caroline Lupini, (article) Your credit score is determined by private, for-profit, publicly traded companies, which means that their No. 1 goal is to turn a profit, which can be at the expense of consumers.

Additional Resources

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Reviewing your Credit Reports (PDF) (CFPB): Tool: Checklist of what to look for when reading through a credit report (Understanding Credit Reports and Scores)

Disputing errors on your credit report (pdf) (CFPB): Information about how to dispute an erroneous or fraudulent information on a credit report and file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Sample Dispute Form (.docx) Sample Dispute Letter (.docx) (KLCAS): A form and sample letter to submit to credit bureaus to dispute inaccurate, fraudulent, or erroneous information on a credit report.

Radio Segments

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Link to Radio segments on building good credit (NWU, Diana Spielman)

This includes a variety of 2-4 minute radio segments about building good credit, from KWSO 91.9FM. (Building Good Credit)