Commonly Asked Credit Questions, Part Two

How many points does an inquiry take off your credit report?

There is no set number of points that will be deducted from your score for a single inquiry from a third party. The same inquiry from the same lender at the same minute can affect two people’s credit reports differently. In general, inquiries are a small part of your credit score (less than 5%), and the stronger your score, the less likely one or two inquiries are to have an effect on your score.

My ex-husband was supposed to pay this account as per the divorce decree and he hasn’t. 

Joint accounts can create problems long after a marriage is over. Even though your ex-spouse is supposed to pay the bill according to the divorce decree, you are still liable for the debt to the lender if you are a co-signer. That’s because your divorce decree is an agreement between you and your ex. It doesn’t erase the original contract you had with the lender.

As far as your credit is concerned, any late payments will likely be considered accurate, since the account is still yours. Once in a while, a creditor will agree to remove the late payment from the innocent spouse’s credit report, but they are not required to.

I co-signed an auto loan for my son. When I tried to refinance my mortgage, I found out he has been paying it late. What can I do to restore my credit?

Sorry, you’re likely out of luck. Here’s why: when you co-sign a loan, you are agreeing to be fully responsible for the debt. And by law, if the issuer reports debts to a credit-reporting agency, it must report that information under the co-signer’s name. As a general rule of thumb, be very, very careful when you co-sign any loan document

I’m deep in debt and have a poor credit score. What can I do?

Believe it or not, your lousy credit score may be a plus; it may keep you from digging a deeper hole with a “consolidation” loan. It’s time to focus all your effort on one goal — getting rid of that debt. Once your debt is no longer an issue, you can begin to rebuild your credit. It is common for consumers to significantly improve their credit scores in less than two years when they worked at it.

One in five Americans have errors on their credit report

Credit report mistakes can lead to disqualification for mortgages and car loans, as well as increased insurance premiums and interest rates.  Needless to say, you don’t want erroneous debts on your accounts with the three credit reporting agencies. As we mentioned before, it is a good idea to check your credit report often to see if anything is posted that isn’t your debt. Example: It is pretty common for your credit report to have the debts of people that share your same name. Look for that.