How Identity Theft Can Impact Credit Scores

Based in Valencia, California, Think Credit Reports offers people the ability to monitor their creditworthiness and continuously receive updated credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Think Credit Reports’ services are particularly vital, given an increase in identity theft, which can have an outsized impact on people’s ability to get loans and mortgages or to get them at good rates.

Identity theft can derail individuals’ financial well-being in a number of ways. In cases where a personal credit card is used fraudulently, victims may be unable to promptly pay for the extra charges that have accrued. By the time that the situation is resolved by the lender, long-term damage to the credit report (which is difficult to undo) may have occurred. This threat is particularly acute when thieves redirect bills to new addresses, resulting in cardholders being completely unaware of fraudulent transactions that have gone through. Identity thieves may also target personal savings and checking accounts, draining funds in ways that make it impossible for victims to pay mortgages, rent, and bills before irreversible harm has been done to their credit score.

The Diverse Factors That Determine Credit Scores

Think Credit Reports is a Valencia, California, firm that offers customers nationwide tools for accessing their current credit reports and protecting against identity theft. Think Credit Reports customers receive Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian scores each quarter and are notified automatically each time a major transaction, such as a mortgage or auto loan payment, is processed.

The credit score acts as a widely accepted measurement of individuals’ financial solvency and how likely they are to make good on debt obligations. In addition to being accessed by lenders prior to approving loans at specific interest rates, reports are also increasingly checked by employers and landlords prior to making decisions about hiring or renting to applicants.

As a general rule, anyone maintaining a credit score exceeding 720 has excellent credit and will likely be able to access loans at optimal rates. People with scores lower than 620 may experience difficulty in taking out loans and will incur high interest rates on those that they do qualify for.

The factors that make up the credit score are complex and varied, but as a general rule, 35 percent has to do with simply staying current on bills. Outstanding balances make up 30 percent of the score and have to do with the balance-to-limit ratio on credit cards. Account age defines 15 percent of the score, while the makeup of available credit affects 10 percent of the score. Other factors, such as the number of credit inquiries, also influence the ultimate score received.