Key takeaways: 

  • Credit plays a big role in your financial life. It pays to understand how it works. 
  • Knowing the difference between credit reports and credit scores – and how to access each – is essential. 
  • Employers can and do check credit reports for some employees and prospective employees. 

Credit matters. Whether you’re trying to qualify for a loan, obtain the best interest rate or get a new job of apartment, credit can play an essential role. As important as credit is, there are still many misconceptions about it. Here, we look at seven of the most common myths surrounding credit scores.   

  1. Myth: Credit scores are the same thing as credit reports.  

Reality: In fact, credit scores don’t even appear on credit reports. Credit reports contain information on your current and past credit accounts, how much you owe on them and if you’ve had any late payments. It also lists accounts in collection and any public financial records you have (e.g., bankruptcy judgments, liens, overdue child support).  

Each of the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) collect this information and assemble credit reports from them. Chances are very good that if you’ve ever paid a utility bill or taken out a loan, you’ll have a credit report from at least one of the agencies – even if you’ve never had a credit card. 

The agencies use the information on credit reports to develop credit scores. FICO ® (Fair Isaac Corporation) also develops widely used credit scores from credit report information. Your scores will be slightly different from each of the companies. 

Since credit scores are based on the information that appears in credit reports, it’s very important to make sure that information is accurate. You can get your credit reports from each of the three agencies as often as once a week – for free – at or by calling 877-322-8228. If any find any error, correct it by following the directions on each agency’s website.  

If you want to see your actual credit scores, check with your financial institution or credit card issuer. Many provide scores from at least one of the agencies to customers at no charge. You can also get your FICO score at  

  1. Myth: There are tricks and secrets to upping your credit score.  

Reality: What goes into a credit score is direct, straightforward and readily available. Each credit scoring company has its own proprietary algorithm, but you can see the factors that go into the scores here

  1. Myth: Married couples share credit scores 

Reality: Each spouse has their own score, even if they share the same last name. Every individual must obtain and review his or her own credit reports. 

  1. Myth: Most errors on credit reports occur in the amounts that are owed or paid off.   

Reality: Inaccuracies occur in all types of information, and even the most basic errors can affect credit scores. It is very important to check identifying information: name, address, birth date, Social Security number, and “aliases” – such as names with or without a middle initial, and maiden names. If there are any inaccuracies (like an incorrect middle initial), it is important to correct them.   

  1. Myth: These days, you need a credit monitoring service to find and fix errors, but it costs too much. 

Reality: Credit monitoring services (many of which are owned by the credit bureaus themselves) can be helpful for people with continuing problems with their reports. But they don’t correct errors; they just notify the client if there is a suspected error or problem. Instead, you can see the same information on your credit reports – which you can review as often as weekly, at no charge.  

  1. Myth: Employers are not allowed to check credit reports in the hiring process. 

Reality: They are allowed to, and frequently do. It’s particularly common for employers who considering individuals for jobs in which they will need to work with sensitive data or large amounts of money. Some companies may review a credit report for a sense of an individual’s financial responsibility. 

  1. Myth: It’s OK to be late in paying a bill once in a while. 

Reality: Late payments do hurt credit scores. Constituting 35% of calculations, on-time payments comprise the largest component in credit score calculations. 

Your credit picture is important to lenders of all types, but it’s also important in other situations where your financial reliability can play a role. That extends beyond loans and interest rates, sometimes factoring into getting a job or even an apartment you want. It pays to pay attention to your credit! 

The blog articles published by Unlock Technologies are available for informational purposes only and not considered legal or financial advice on any subject matter. The blogs should not be used as a substitute for legal or financial advice from a licensed attorney or financial professional. Links in our blog posts to third-party websites are provided as a convenience and are for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement of any products, services or opinions of the corporation, organization or individual. Unlock Technologies bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of external sites or that of subsequent links.