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Give yourself credit: 5 myths that affect credit scores

Published: Friday, Nov. 16 2012 12:30 p.m. MST

More than 94 percent of American consumers owned a credit card in 2009. Choices made by consumers affect credit scores every day.

Marlena Telvick

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Online banking system Credit Karma shares five myths to consumers about credit scores. In a world where more than 94 percent of American consumers owned a credit card in 2009, according to a Federal Reserve Bank study, developing a good credit score has never been more important.

Checking credit drops the score

False. Only when a lender or creditor makes inquiries can it be dropped a few points. These are referred to as “hard inquiries.”

Closing old accounts is good

Closing old and inactive accounts, rather than managing credit, can lower a credit score because it can make the credit history appear shorter. In order to lower available risk, ask for lower credit limits or close new accounts instead of old.

Negative records are removed from your credit report once it is paid off

Bankruptcies, late payments, and collection accounts — all negative records — will stay on the report for 7 to 10 years.

Co-signing doesn't make you responsible for the account

While trying to help a friend out, if they don't make the payment it will negatively affect the co-signer. Any joint account is taking legal responsibility for the account — which means all positive or negative activity — and will show on both credit scores.

Paying off debt adds 50 points to the credit score

Because of the way scores are calculated, credit scores and how they are affected is difficult to predict. Paying bills on time, reducing debt and removing inaccuracies from the credit report is the best that can be done.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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