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WASHINGTON – The Consumer Federation of America and Fair Isaac held a press conference March 15 to discuss the findings of their new survey which show that almost one-half of consumers in the U.S. do not understand key facts about credit scores. Among the findings of the study that was conducted by Opinion Research Corp.Feb. 10-13 among 1,013 adults, 49% of consumers do not understand that credit scores measure credit risk; and 45% incorrectly think that increasing their income increases their credit score. When given four definitions of a credit score, only 51% correctly indicated that it represents “someone’s credit risk.” Forty-nine percent said it represents credit availability, debt levels, or credit IQ, or that they did not know what it represents. Respondents who were most knowledgeable about credit scores had incomes over $75,000 (66%), a college education (63%), and were between the ages of 35-44 (62%). Those with the least knowledge were those with incomes under $25,000 (34%), did not graduate high school (35%), and were 18-24 years of age (34%). When asked what actions would improve a person’s credit score, 93% correctly answered “paying off one’s debts.” However, nearly one half also incorrectly stated that “getting a job that pays a lot more” (45%) and “inheriting a million dollars” (40%) would also raise a consumer’s credit score. To provide consumers with basic information about credit scores, CFA and Fair Isaac have prepared a free brochure – “Your Credit Scores” – that’s being distributed by the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC). The credit score brochure includes information on what the FICO credit score is, what factors influence it to rise and fall, and how consumers can get their own scores.

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