Consumer Knowledge about Credit Scores has Steadily Declined over the Past Eight Years · Consumer Federation of America

Washington, D.C. – The ninth annual credit score survey, released today by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and VantageScore Solutions, LLC, shows that consumer knowledge about credit scores is at the lowest level in the past eight years. On most knowledge questions (as the enclosed table and charts show), correct scores declined by more than ten percentage points, and sometimes by more than 20 percentage points.  For example:

  • 78% of respondents in 2012, but only 62% in 2019, correctly indicated that people have more than one credit score.
  • 85% in 2012, but only 66% in 2019, correctly answered that keeping a low credit card balance helps raise a low credit score or maintain a high one.

However, in the same period, the proportion of respondents who said they considered their knowledge of credit scores excellent or good rose from 54% to 60%.

“Consumers know less about credit scores but think they know more,” said Stephen Brobeck, CFA senior fellow.  “Taking our online credit score quiz provides an easy way for consumers to update their credit score knowledge,” he added. More than 230,000 individuals have taken the Credit Score Quiz[1], developed and maintained by CFA and VantageScore.

“We are pleased that many consumers now have free access to their credit scores, but consumers must also take advantage of all the additional information about credit scores and credit files in order to make better credit decisions,” said Barrett Burns, president and CEO of VantageScore Solutions.

Consumer knowledge levels may have deteriorated, in part, because of improvements in the overall economy and consumers’ financial condition. In 2012, large numbers of Americans faced challenging credit card and mortgage debts, so consumers may have been especially concerned about credit scores. Since then, as the nation’s economy and family finances recovered, and as consumers reduced unsustainable credit card and mortgage debts, consumers may have felt that it was less important to fully understand credit scores. Reports of increases in average credit scores nationwide may also have lessened people’s feelings of financial vulnerability and the need to fully learn about their scores and its impact.

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