Your Credit ABCs – Part 1

What you know can

save you lots of money



flickr photo by 401(K) 2013 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license. Credit:

By Jim Murphy

Would you be upset if you had to pay more money than your friends and neighbors do for the same food, drinks or admission to a movie theatre or ballgame?

If your credit score is bad – that’s just what you are doing in many key areas of your life.

With a poor credit score …

You pay for more for a mortgage and other loans. You pay higher finance charges. You may pay more for auto insurance or to rent a home or apartment. You may be unable to qualify for certain government clearances. You could lose out on a job offer or promotion. And your score can even affect your online dating chances.

So what do you do?

  • First, get a FREE copy of your credit report. But get it only at This is the exclusive source for your free credit reports authorized by federal law. Accept no substitutes.
  • At this site, you can get one free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – each year. And you should. Go through and check each report for accuracy. Even consider getting one every four months, so you can track your credit over time.
  • But be aware: you will not get your credit score. You will, however, get the information your score is based on.
  • Do not be mislead by imposter sites that have words like “free credit report” in their names. Some of them say they offer free products … that then convert to paying services after a waiting period. One such site,, spent $72 million annually, according to Wikipedia. So deception must be profitable. Its owners eventually were sued by the Federal Trade Commission. My advice: DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR THIS SITE. Save your money and go only to:
  • To verify your identity, you will need to provide your name, address and past addresses, Social Security Number and date of birth. Plus, you must correctly answer multiple-choice questions about your current credit cards, mortgage company and current or previous employers. If you are rejected online, you can still get your report by regular mail.

Check your report for accuracy. Then, if you wish to purchase your credit score, you can. But be careful. Experian offers you your score for $4.95, but there is charge of $19.95 for each additional month.

Next time: how to get free credit scores, where to get help with credit or debt problems, ways to improve your credit score and more.



Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. He also is a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides.

Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.




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