What you need to know
The higher your score, the lower your credit risk. Your credit score is not physically stored in the credit file. Rather, it is generated at the time a lender requests your credit report and is then included as part of the report. This measure is used by a lender to help determine whether a person qualifies for a particular credit card, loan, or service.
Most credit scores estimate the risk a company incurs by lending a person money or providing them with a service. Specifically, the credit score reflects the likelihood that the person will make payments on time in the next two to three years. Keep in mind your credit score is a fluid number that changes daily as information is added or revised in your credit report. There are many different credit scores used in the financial service industry. Your score may be different from lender to lender (or from car loan to mortgage loan); depending on the type of credit scoring model that was used.
You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer credit reporting companies place "fraud alerts" in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. It also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file.
An initial fraud alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An extended alert stays in your file for seven years. To place either of these alerts, a consumer credit reporting company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number. If you ask for an extended alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report. An identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency. For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.