Consumer Reports

The Truth About What Does and Doesn't Affect Your Credit Score

How much do you know about credit scores?

What helps or hurts your credit can be downright confusing. So Consumer Reports wanted to clear things up with its own credit score quiz.

First up, unpaid library fines?

"Overdue library fines will not affect your credit. They are reported by municipalities and municipal court records, but they won't go on your credit report," said Tobie Stanger, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

Next, unpaid parking or traffic tickets?

"Parking and traffic tickets, like library fines, come from municipal records, and they aren't collected by any of the credit reporting agencies," Stanger said.

And opening up a bunch of credit cards at the same time?

"Opening up a lot of credit cards in a short period of time can have a negative impact because it suggests you might be in credit trouble," Stanger explained. 

Does frequently checking your credit ding your report?

"You can check your credit report at any time without it affecting your credit score," Stanger said.

CR says you don't have to pay a credit-monitoring service just to check your score. Instead, go to a site like that will do it for you for free.

Consumer Reports says it's important to check your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus simultaneously before shopping for a major loan like a mortgage. That way, you can correct any errors before applying for a loan.

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