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Paying bills on time definitely has an impact on credit scores and creditworthiness, and Americans are well aware of that fact, according to a new study by Equifax. People acknowledged that staying on top of their finances can mean the difference between meeting their everyday needs and long-term goals - or failing.
The new study was designed to coincide with Financial Literacy Month in April, and looked at people’s knowledge of credit and other other personal finance issues. In the study, people indicated that they believed that their credit affected a variety of areas including everything from getting an interest rate for a loan (19%) and renting an apartment (7%), to getting their lights and utilities turned on (5%) and getting clearance for a new job (4%).
With the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) people can check their credit scores for free once a year from all three of the credit reporting agencies. Here, too, Americans are well aware of their rights, with 81% of respondents saying that they knew they could do just that.
"Reviewing your credit report regularly is a great first step when it comes to improving financial literacy," said Diane Moogalian, vice president of operations for Equifax Personal Information Solutions. "Getting into this healthy financial habit may provide consumers with insight into factors that may need to be addressed and could possibly help one address identity theft."
Keeping credit on track
Equifax has some suggestions for consumers looking to keep their credit score on track or get it on track, including:
• Get your bills current and pay them on time.
• Pay off your debt instead of transferring the balances to another cardholder.
• If you have an issue take steps to re-establish your credit history. For the long term opening a new account or accounts. and then paying them off can will help.
• Only apply for new credit cards if you fully understand how it will affect you overall credit and financial picture.
• Maintain low balances on credit cards and other forms of revolving credit.
Equifax takes on financial literacy
This study goes hand-in-hand with Equifax's outreach to consumers, to help them understand just how critical it is to have and maintain a good credit rating, and what factors go into keeping it on track. People can access articles on personal finance issues on The Equifax Finance Blog where they cover a variety of topics including: credit, identity theft, retirement, insurance, tax and real estate.
This study was a blind survey that included 1,008 consumers from across the U.S.