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What is a FICO® Credit Score?

FICO is registered trademark for Fair Isaac and Company, or Fair Isaac for short. Fair Isaac is a company who constructs 'credit score' tools for lenders who use them to evaluate the credit of their customers and prospects. FICO credit scores are among the most well know credit scores, but there are certainly other competitors of Fair Isaac who also construct credit scores. For example, all three of the national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) construct their own credit scores completely separate and independent of Fair Isaac.

Also, because each of the three credit agencies will have slightly different credit information on you, your FICO scored may vary somewhat depending upon which credit report the score is based on.  If you can, it may be best to check all three of your FICO scores when the time comes.

FICO credit scores have become well known to consumers over the last several years because they are often used in mortgage loan transactions. For example, a lender wishing to extend a home mortgage loan to a consumer, may order a FICO score on the consumer to try to predict whether the consumer is going to default on the mortgage loan at some date in the future. Such a FICO score is only based on elements in your credit report. In the case of FICO scores, a higher score means you are less risky for the lender. As a result, a high FICO score may mean you qualify for a larger loan or perhaps a more favorable interest rate.

FICO credit scores have historically only been available to lenders as a tool to evaluate your credit. However, in the last several years FICO has made their scores available to consumers. 

Consumers can now order their Fico Score in several places, including through Equifax in the link below.

It is important to note that your credit score is not part of your credit report.  It is a separate number that is calculated at the time your credit report is pulled.  Generally credit scores cannot be purchased without purchasing a credit report as well.

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