HSBC Survey Shows 50% Don’t Know Much of Credit Scores

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Just how critical is a good credit score?  It is a key factor in determining whether you qualify for a home loan and the interest rate you'll pay. On a $150,000 home mortgage, a difference of just two percentage points can mean a savings of $70,000 in interest over 30 years.  Yet a new survey by HSBC indicates that seven in 10 consumers don't know their credit score and nearly half don't know what comprises their credit score.

To help close the knowledge gap, HSBC has launched its "Your Credit Counts" financial-education program for a second consecutive year.  An enhanced Web site provides new tools and other valuable information about borrowing, saving and credit management.   As an incentive for consumers to discover the Web site's myriad resources, HSBC is offering a $50,000 sweepstakes with a $25,000 top prize and additional monthly prizes.   HSBC also has enlisted Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad and Emmy winner Edward James Olmos to assist the "Your Credit Counts" campaign in spreading the message about the importance of understanding financial matters and of credit in particular.

"Many people say they don't know where to begin to learn about credit," says Rashad. "For them, education is the ultimate tool in helping make good financial decisions, and that's what  provides to anyone, anytime." Adds Olmos: "'Not only does the program help consumers understand credit, it can help them correct or improve their credit rating - and that gives them more and better financial options."

"'We believe strongly in the importance of financial education to help consumers identify and pursue their financial goals," says William F. Aldinger, chairman and chief executive officer of HSBC North America Holdings Inc.  "That's why we have a long history of providing consumers with the tools and resources they need to enhance their financial futures, and why we continue to invest heavily in financial-education programs."  
Among other programs, HSBC offers community workshops and grants to grassroots organizations across the U.S. to help enhance consumer awareness and financial education and to reach the families that would benefit most from these resources.      

The new national survey conducted by HSBC underscores the need for and the extent of consumers' desire for education on credit matters. Among other findings, the survey reveals that:

[] Seven of 10 consumers don't know their credit score.  
[] Seventy-four percent have only some or no knowledge of how to
improve their credit score.
[] Less than half know specifically where to obtain a copy of
their credit report.
[] Consumers want more information about specific credit issues,
including how to improve a credit score, how a score is calculated, how
to deal with credit problems and what a credit rating is used for.

Here are six tips that could lead to a higher credit score:
[] Make your credit payments promptly.  Late payments, collections
and bankruptcies have the greatest negative impact on your score.
[] Pay utilities, rent and telephone on time because late payments
on them also will be recorded in your seven-year history at credit
[] Because errors occur, review your credit report annually and
contact the credit reporting agencies immediately to remove any
[] Pay off an account with a poor credit history, even if your
account has been charged off.
[] Close accounts that you aren't using, but avoid closing your
oldest account, which will make your credit history appear shorter.
[] Carefully manage your credit account balances since your score
is affected by your total credit used as a percentage of your total
credit available.

To assist consumers further, HSBC's "Your Credit Counts" Web site offers a variety of resources to help them test their credit knowledge, better understand their credit report and assist them in managing their credit.


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