Understanding the Credit Score System: What it means to you

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Understanding the Credit Score System: What it means to you
For all the attention credit scores get, they are generally misunderstood by consumers. First, they are not a factor in everyday life. The credit score matters only when you take out a loan, such as for a car, a house, education or new credit card.

Here's how a score is calculated:
35 percent: Your financial history, whether you paid on time and if not, how late you were and how often.

30 percent: How much you owe on each account and how much of your credit limit you have used.

15 percent: Your credit history, how long you had each account.

10 percent: Types of credit, such as home loans, car loans, and credit cards. Secured loans are best.

10 percent: New credit, how many new accounts or credit checks you have had by present or prospective lenders. A credit check knocks about 15 points off your credit score.

Some points to remember
• A credit score doesn't reflect your whole financial picture. You might have a lot of savings, assets and investments, but they don't count. How much you owe and whether you pay on time is all that counts on your credit score.

• It doesn't matter if you carry a balance on a credit card. The total you owe and whether you pay on time are what count.

• The FICO score is the most widely used score, but it isn't necessarily the one you might see advertised. There are three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, all of which sell their own scores.

• A history of late payments is wiped off your credit score after seven years.

• Good credit lasts at least 10 years, even if the loans are paid off.

• You will probably never have a score of 800 or more, but the high 700s is the best credit area to be in.

• If your score is in the 600s or low 700s, you should try to raise it by paying on time and reducing the amount of debt you have in relation to the amount of credit available to you.

Domestic Violence: How to start a conversation with co–workers
Here are some ideas about how to talk to a co–worker if you are worried about them.

You: I am worried about you. You seemed pretty upset today after that phone call. And last week, I noticed a bruise on your arm.

Co–worker: Oh, it was nothing, really.

You: Are you sure? I'm concerned about you – I thought that maybe someone hurt you.

Co–worker: It was just an argument between my spouse and me.

You: No one deserves to be hurt by anybody. If you want to talk about it, I'm here to listen. I also have a phone number to a confidential help line if you wish to talk to someone to about what's happening and what you can do about it.

If you are wrong? At the worst, your coworker knows you are a caring person.

If you are right? If your coworker tells you that he/she is being abused, do the following:

• Just Listen. Listening can be one of the best ways to help.

• Keep it Confidential. Don't tell other people what he/she told you. If there is a direct threat of violence at work, tell your coworker you both need to tell the employer.

• Provide Information, Not Advice. Give the phone number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1–800–799–SAFE or the EAP who can provide your coworker with resources and counseling.

• Be careful about giving advice. Your coworker knows the risks he/she faces and is the best judge of what to do; encourage him/her to make his/her own decisions.

• Be There and Be Patient. Coping with abuse takes time. Your coworker may not do what you expect him/ her to do when you expect it. If you think it is your job to fix the problem, you may end up feeling frustrated. Instead focus on building trust, and being supportive.

• It's Not Your Fault. Other people get hurt also, and there are resources to help.

If you are involved in Domestic Violence or are concerned about someone who is you can contact the EAP 24 hours a day for resources and counseling. Call the EAP at 800–433–2320.

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