For years it looked like the Berlin wall - the way the big credit scoring outfit Fair, Isaac and Company refused to reveal how it created its FICO scores that cause lenders to approve or deny you credit.

The wall is coming down, thanks to pressures from Congress and states like California that have taken on the wall with a sledgehammer.

FICO has started to tell the world what goes into the mysterious scores, and the detailed explanation is up on their web site at Remember that when a lenders asks any of the big three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union, for your credit score, they are probably working with the Fair Isaac scoring model. Your score is arrived by calculating a slew of different types of information.

FICO scores range from 300 (very bad) to 900 (fantastic), although most folks score in the 600 to 700 range. Your FICO score is based on five key areas to determine your score.

They have also recently began releasing to consumers their scores and interpretive data for a nominal fee. Visit for information. THIS IS A GREAT SITE for credit score information!!!

PAYMENT HISTORY. This accounts for 35% of the score. It's the main thing lenders look at, but even though you've always paid bills on time doesn't necessarily mean you'll wind up with a super high score. Payment records are only part of your track record. And a 30-day late last month counts more than a 90-day late five years ago. The biggest black marks come from bankruptcy, credit-related judgements, collection items, suits, and liens.

HOW MUCH YOU OWE ON CREDIT. Counts for 30%. Do you have too many accounts on which you could easily overextend yourself? In short, FICO considers, "How much is too much."

LENGTH OF CREDIT HISTORY. Counts for 15%. How long have your accounts been established. How old is your oldest account? What is the average age of your accounts?

HOW MUCH DEBT YOU'VE BEEN TAKING ON. Counts for 10%. For instance, how many credit applications have you filled out lately? Lenders always make inquiries to credit bureaus, and these all go on your record. If you had an earlier problem, did you re-establish your credit and make payments on time? If so, that can hike your score.

THE TYPES OF CREDIT. Counts for 10%. What is your credit mix? Credit cards, installment loans, mortgages? The scoring model likes to see a little bit of everything, as opposed to just credit cards, for example

WHATS YOUR CREDIT GRADE? Every lender uses different guidelines to determine your credit worthiness. Upon reviewing your application and credit report, you're given a credit grade and a determination regarding your loan's approval or denial. Click HERE for some general criteria used within the mortgage industry to determine credit.

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