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Credit report important number for consumers

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You could be paying thousands of dollars more in finance charges for your credit card, your house, even your car and your credit score could be to blame. It's a costly problem many people don't even know they have. It's one of the most important numbers you have. It's not your social security number -- it's your credit score. It's different from a credit report but does reflect your credit worthiness. But a new survey conducted by the consumer federation of America shows only one-fourth of Americans know what a good credit score is and most people don't even know their score. Not knowing could cost you. Stephen Brobeck with the Consumer Federation of America said, "You may be denied utility service, may even be denied a job. You're looking at paying potentially paying tens of thousands of dollars a year unnecessarily in interest charges." A good credit score is anything above 700. Anything below 600 means you pay higher finance charges for a house, a car and even your credit card. What lowers your score? Late payments. In fact, just one late auto payment could lower your credit score by as much as 100 points. Other factors: too much open credit and even your credit card balance. Brobeck said, "Don't go over 50 percent of your credit line on any credit card." By making a few changes in your spending and bill paying habits experts say you can raise your score and potentially save thousands of dollars. A credit score from one of the three credit reporting agencies will cost you about $15. You can obtain a free credit report once a year. For more information visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

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