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Home : News : News
NEWS | Aug. 24, 2018

M&FRC class helps participants get handle on credit reports, scores

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Statistics from the Federal Reserve show that consumer debt in the United States continues to mount, approaching $3.9 trillion last year, which includes outstanding revolving credit in excess of $1 trillion, its highest level ever.

Establishing credit is essential for consumers so they can secure loans to buy homes and vehicles and obtain credit cards to finance other purchases, but they must also be aware that accumulating too much debt can lead to financial difficulties and seriously impact their lives.

“Understanding Your Credit Report and Score,” a class offered from 10-11:30 a.m. Sept. 6 at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Military & Family Readiness Center, will help participants understand how credit works and see the importance of keeping their use of credit under control.

“We will discuss the value of having a good credit report and score and how this affects your financial well-being,” said Bob Williams, JBSA-Randolph M&FRC community readiness consultant.

The session, which is offered throughout the year at the three primary JBSA locations, typically features facilitators from the M&FRC and on-base financial institutions who discuss information that goes on a credit report, how credit scores are established and steps people can take to fix errors on their credit reports.

“We want people to understand the difference between a credit report and credit score,” Williams said. “A credit report is your financial history; it shows how you’ve paid your bills. A credit score is a three-digit number that identifies your credit worthiness.”

Class participants will learn about the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and the FICO score, which lenders use to make loan decisions. FICO, originally Fair, Isaac and Co., is a company that provides analytics and decision-making services, including credit scoring, for financial services companies.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850 – the higher the number, the better the credit score, Williams said.

“Most businesses use the FICO score to give a credit score,” he said. “What we try to do is encourage military families to take the time to look at and be aware of their credit report and score and how to manage that information. We want to help them understand what can raise their credit score and what can lower it.”

Credit reports contain information about consumers’ bill payment history, loans, current debt and other financial information; they also show where consumers live and work and whether they’ve been arrested, sued or filed for bankruptcy.

Maxing out their credit cards and not paying their bills on time are two of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to the use of credit, Williams said.

“We offer basic financial management classes and one-on-one consultations to help people take better care of their money,” he said. “The foundation of a good credit report and score is sound money management with a budget or spending plan.”

The class will also address topics such as establishing credit and finding the best interest rate when applying for a loan or credit card.

Class participants will also have an opportunity to talk to facilitators about personal financial issues following the session, Williams said.

“Our goal is to provide guidance regardless of their financial situation,” he said. “We’re here to walk them through the process.”

For more information on the class, call the JBSA-Randolph M&FRC at 210-652-5321.