Your secret credit score could be stalking your every financial move.
The average American's score is 692, compiled by the nation's three credit-reporting agencies.
But more and more companies are relying on a fourth agency to decide if you qualify, and many people don't even know it.
Most know the big three - Experian, Equifax and Trans Union - they all track and report your financial history by the payments you make on loans. Other debts have been off limits. Until now.
"Basically a lot of transactions that aren't traditional loans so to speak are showing up in these fourth bureau agency reports," says John Brumbaugh, of ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, and he says clients are shocked when they learn a long list of agencies ("it's a bunch of different companies that do it," says Brumbaugh) collectively nicknamed the 4th bureau are now tracking when and how people pay for even the small things in their lives.
"Anything from your gym membership, your magazine subscriptions, your cable bill, your utility bill," Brumbaugh says. "It can cost you money, and it can come back to haunt you."
He says all kinds of companies are seeking 4th bureau information about you. "Banks to insurance companies to utility providers to cable providers," he says.
The main way all this can be used against you?
Cable companies or, say, apartment complexes will see you've been late on something like a Netflix account, or that you've bounced a check, and they'll use that as a reason to charge you higher safety deposit fees, or they'll tell you it's why they need you to sign up for automatic bill pay.
Bottom line - every bill you have these days matters.
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