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COSTA MESA, Calif. – It’s not necessarily how much debt you carry that affects your credit score, but whether you make on-time payments that can raise or lower a consumer’s credit profile. In fact, judging from the results of a study recently conducted by Experian, carrying large amounts of debt may actually raise a consumer’s credit score. Among the findings of the study released by Experian Consumer DirectT, the national average credit score for consumers with debt above the national average is actually higher than the average credit score for those with debt below the national average. However, the study also found that the opposite is true for consumers who have a delinquency on their credit file. Another study by Experian Consumer Direct found that half of all consumers have at least one delinquency on their credit file, and consumers with one missed payment in the last year have an average credit score about 160 points lower than the average of those with no delinquent payments. According to Experian, the national average PLUS ScoreT for consumers is 678. The average debt owed by consumers on revolving credit accounts and fixed payment accounts, excluding real estate mortgages, is $11,497. The relationship between debt level and credit score is evident when the two are looked at by U.S. region. Regionally, the West South Central area of the U.S. has the lowest average score – 655; the New England region has the highest – 701. However, the study shows that the New England region has the highest average debt – $15,227. The West South Central, meanwhile, has the lowest average debt – $9,508. The average Experian PLUS Score for consumers with one delinquency in the last year is 598 compared to 759 for those with no delinquent payments. Fifty-five percent of consumers have at least one delinquency on their credit report and 34% have had a delinquency in the last year. Experian Consumer Direct President Ed Ojdana said it’s important for consumers to remember that having debt is not always a bad thing as long as they manage it well. However, they should also understand that one late payment can significantly cause their credit score to drop and that paying those bills off may not necessarily raise their scores. Ojdana also stressed that “consumers should assess their finances on a regular basis by checking their accounts to be sure everything is in order before making future purchases. -

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