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The Most Important Number You Need to Know, FICO and Your Financial Health

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The FICO score is perhaps one of the most important pieces of information the consumer needs to know, and understand. This three-digit number is a vital part of your financial health, and unfortunately, a Consumer Federation of America (CFA) study finds that American consumers have a "poor" grasp of the mechanics and importance of credit scores. Jenny Stewart, education and housing director for Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Dallas, says among other things, this lack of knowledge can cost consumers thousands of dollars when it comes to obtaining credit; result in apartment applications being turned down, and require hefty deposits for services such as telephone, electricity or natural gas. According to the CFA study, less than a third of survey respondents were aware of the meaning or uses of credit scores, and a stunning 74 percent of respondents said they believe that their income level influences their credit score -- despite the fact that the credit bureaus have no access to data on personal income, and do not maintain records on income. Stewart says it is an unfortunately reality that despite widespread efforts to educate the public about the importance of personal credit scores and how it affect their everyday lives, consumers still have a lot to learn when it comes to credit scores. National studies, including those conducted by the CFA, reveal that far too many consumers do not realize that their credit score can determine what they pay for auto financing and leasing, credit cards, mortgages, and insurance, or influence an employers hiring decision. Join Stewart and host Dick Ensweiler for this in depth discussion of how credit scores work, how your score is calculated, what affects your score, how your score affects your financial health, and what steps you can take to improve your score.

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