Financial Tips | Debt Management

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6/24/07

Credit Score Loophole Closes

As we are all well aware, a good credit score is an important asset to possess. Not only does a good credit score save you thousands on interests payments, it is also an essential item needed to qualify for most loans.

It order to help out close friends and family (usually children), people put a specific person on their credit card as an “authorized user.” An authorized user is authorized to use the card, but is not liable for the card’s debt. Before recently, credit card reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) did not distinguish between the original card holder’s credit record and the authorized user’s record. Therefore, for example, if the original cardholder had a flawless ten year record on a particular card, the authorized user receives the benefit of this flawless record regardless of the length of time the authorized user is on the card. The benefit to the authorized user is huge. These benefits to the authorized user’s report could boost his/her credit score upwards to one hundred (100) points. This practice is known as “piggybacking.”

This is all about to change. Recently, the Fair Isaac Corporation, the company behind the FICO credit scores, reported that it was going to stop giving these benefits to authorized users. It was reported that certain internet sites started selling the rights to great credit reports. In other words, people with great credit would sell the right for other people to be listed as an authorized user on their card. This caused problems for lenders because they were unable to accurately gauge the credit risk of a person. Due to these complications, the above action will be taken starting in September of 2007.

Fortunately, this is not all bad news. Although the authorized user loophole is going to be closed, a second person can still receive the benefits of another’s credit history by adding the other person as a “joint user.” Unlike an authorized user, a joint user is liable for the debt on the card. However, if you are a responsible credit user, the joint user should have nothing to worry about. The joint user still gets the benefit of the entire credit history of the original card holder. Therefore, if you want to give your kids, your spouse, your other family members, or your friends a credit boost, you still have the option to add them as joint users. This option could also help business partners.



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