Let’s Answer 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Credit Score!

Three digits that have the power to shape your world: your credit score. The higher the score the better are your chances of dreams becoming true. Not only you will have easy access to loans but will also be offered lower interest rate, which means taking the loan will cost you less overall and you could save a substantial amount over the course of a lifetime.

And when something impacts your life that much, don’t you think you should be familiar with it? The sad story is that tens of millions of Indians are taking a blind approach to their money. Everyone wants their finances to be in good shape, but only a few tend to work towards maintaining a good credit history.

Here we list down 5 important and basic questions about credit score to get you started:

1. What is on a credit report?
The short answer to that question is: A lot! A typical credit report will include personal identifying information: a list of credit accounts (including credit limit), type of account (credit card, home loan, auto loan, etc.), and your payment history on those accounts. Each of the four major credit reporting bureaus compiles data from sources that extend you credit. Based on all this data, companies may calculate a credit score to reflect your creditworthiness. Since each of the credit reporting bureaus provides a score, you may have at least four scores. Bits and pieces of your credit history may vary slightly among the four companies because not all businesses supply information to all three agencies. However, the broad picture of your credit history should be relatively consistent.

2. What Types of Information Can Impact Your Credit Scores?
The two most crucial factors that affect your credit score is your repayment of the loan and how timely you pay your EMIs and card dues. If you are a month late in paying your dues, then your credit score might drop by 80 points. Next up is, credit inquiries. They can affect your credit score in a major way. There are two types of credit inquiries, soft and hard. Soft Inquiries are harmless to your credit score but the hard inquiries that are often done by lenders before lending money to you can bring a change in your credit score even if you do not get the loan in the end.

Opening new credit accounts can or taking new loans also affect but it can be fixed with regular and timely repayments. Lenders evaluate the credibility of the borrower at their own discretion. They may use whichever scores they’d like and measure those scores on a scale that is unique to them. It’s also possible that they may not even consider credit scores at all.

3. Your Score Is Less Than 750. Now What?
Check your credit score yearly, at least to avoid surprises! With CRIF you are entitled to one free credit report every year. And no, your credit won’t take a blow if you do this – it’s considered a “soft” inquiry. If your credit score is lower than 750 then you should dig deep in your credit report and find out the reasons for bad credit score. Look at your credit card balances and credit utilization ratio. The closer you are to hitting your maximum limit, the more it may lower your score, so pay down those balances if you can. Check out for errors/information listed in the credit report not undertaken by you, in that case, you should immediately report to the credit bureau or the banks to update your information.

Abruptly closing your credit cards with a long credit history can affect your credit score in a negative way. How long you’ve been borrowing affects your score. The longer the better.

4. How long does a bad credit rating last?

Debts have a finite duration, and so does negative information that appears on your credit report. All negative information on the credit information often falls off the report after 7 years. Make sure all your payments and your credit activities are timely and regular to show stability in your credit behaviour and eventually pushing your credit score towards the good side.

5. Who Can See Your Credit Report?
Your credit report information is not available to the public and can be accessed only you’re your permission. When you apply for a loan and credit card then your permission is required as the lenders and banks need to investigate the information to determine your creditworthiness and your potential and ability to pay back the borrowed amount.

Now that we have explained the basics of Credit Score, wait no longer, follow these steps and start building a good credit history now!

Six Things To Do If You Become A Victim Of Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, credit card number, or other personal information without your knowledge & permission. This personal information is often misused for performing fraudulent or criminal activities. How your information is stolen, and how it is used, may vary. For instance, your PAN card number could be used by thieves to falsify their income and credit history when they apply for a loan, open new lines of credit or file taxes.

There have been instances where people, whose identities have been stolen, have spent years of time & money cleaning up the mess left behind by the thieves. So, as soon as you suspect that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud, take these steps immediately to clear your name and your credit:

1. Lock the concerned account & register FIR: Almost all the banks provide an instant SMS acknowledgment service to verify your purchases. When you start getting messages on your phone about a purchase which was not made by you, contact your bank or lender or insurance company immediately to lock down the account. The next step is to register an FIR in the respective police station to legalize your complaint to find out the fraudster.

2. Put a fraud alert on your credit reports: You can contact one of the credit information companies such as CRIF and place a fraud alert on your credit report. A Fraud alert notifies lenders to verify your identity before extending any credit, by calling you at a phone number you provide. You can either place a temporary alert which lasts for 90 days or an extended fraud alert which lasts for 7 years. The latter can only be issued if you can prove that your identity has been stolen. Another option—and a more effective identity fraud prevention measure—is to place a security freeze on each of your credit reports. A freeze prevents creditors (except those with whom you already do business) from accessing your credit report(s) at all. Most new applications will automatically be declined because, without access to your file, the creditor will have no way to assess your credit. Unlike a fraud alert, in case of security freeze, you’ll need to contact each credit information company individually to place a freeze on your files.

3. Check Your credit reports: After installing a fraud alert in your credit file, you’ll automatically receive a free credit report from each of the four agencies, and you will be opted out of preapproved credit card and insurance offers. Once you receive your free reports, make note of the unique number assigned to your account. This will be helpful in all your communications with the agencies. Check your reports for signs of fraud — new accounts you didn’t open, hard inquiries you did not make, payment history you can’t account for, an employer you never worked for and any personal information unfamiliar to you. Check your credit reports at least once over the course of the next year to check for fraudulent activity.

4. File a police report: Alert the police in your city. You may also need to report the theft to the police departments where it occurred. Make sure to get a copy of the police report and/or the report number. Although the police may not be able immediately helpful if your identity was stolen by criminals online and overseas, your report could help them track down someone who is stealing information locally.

5. Close existing & Open new financial accounts: Identity fraud victims should talk to their banks & financial institutions to determine how they can further avoid the damage. They might require you to close existing accounts (even the ones that haven’t been compromised) and reopen new accounts. It can be a tedious process, but a necessary one to avoid a future incidence.

6. Tighten your account settings: Regularly update passwords to all your online accounts. Make sure they are strong containing a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Delete any personal information such as addresses and phone numbers of public profiles on social media and other sites.

We hope the above steps will help you fight the battle against identity theft!

How to Find Your CRIF Credit Score?

A credit report is a testimonial of how well (or unwell) you manage your money. These reports contain a history of balances, payments, accounts, inquiries and other pieces of personal information that are referred by lenders to decide whether to lend you money. Credit scores are calculated from the data contained in your credit report. In India, scores range between 300 and 900. The higher the number, the better the score.

There are four credit bureaus in India from where you can download your credit report and find out your credit score. By law, you are entitled to a free credit report from all the four credit information companies at least once a year. Alternatively, you can also check your credit score either free of cost from online websites which have tied up with one or more of these credit bureaus.

Let’s find out how you can get your CRIF score in the following 3 easy steps from CRIF High Mark’s website:

1. Fill in your Details, Identification Proofs, and Address: You will be asked to provide your email ID first; Post which you will be presented with a form requiring the rest of the details such as Full Name, Mobile Number, Date of Birth, Residence Address & Gender. You will also have to submit your identification details such as PAN number, Voter’s ID, Passport Number, Driving License, or any other ID.

2. Review your Report type:
Here you are presented with two options of downloading credit report; you can either BUY an instant credit report or you can opt for a FREE credit report. An instant credit report can be ready to download within 5 minutes but will cost you around Rs. 400 where as a FREE credit report can take up to 3 working days to get ready for your viewing.

3. Authenticate your inquiry: Once you fill in all the details and select your report type, you will be asked to answer a multiple-choice question to confirm your identity. You will get a set of three questions based on your past loans or credit cards. Upon a successful answer to one of these three questions, you will be presented with your report on your registered email ID.

How often should you check your credit score

You can check your credit score as often as you want to. The common misconception that checking frequently negatively impacts your score is just a myth. A Credit score can affect aspects of your financial life such as the ability to buy a home or car or even get a credit card. Here are a few more reasons you should know your credit score:

• Knowing your financial value: Credit score is an indicator of your financial health. By knowing your credit score, you know financial standing in the market. If you have a low score, you can take corrective measures to improve it. If you have a high score, you can take pride, rejoice and try to maintain it.

• Get better interest rates: A good credit score not just helps you secure a loan, but also reduces your interest rates. A bad score may render you unqualified for a loan or in the least give you a tough time.

• Get rewarded: If you have a credit score, you might well expect occasional rewards in the form of discounts, credit increment and other benefits owing to your clean conduct.

While being aware of your credit score and routinely checking one will keep you well informed and ahead of your counterparts, make sure you don’t make overdo it to the point that it starts causing anxiety!

The Importance of Credit Risk Management in Banking

Banking operations come with the factor of risk; it’s inevitable. In the simplest way possible, risk is an uncertainty of a situation or event that may happen in the future and for banks, it’s the uncertainty of an outcome of business investments. The various types of banking risks may be classified as Strategic risk, Compliance risk, Credit risk, Cyber Security risk, Liquidity risk, Market risk, Operational risk, etc. Out of these ‘Credit Risk’ represents the most important type of risk for commercial banks.

Credit risk is understood simply as the risk a bank takes while lending out money to borrowers. They might default and fail to repay the dues in time and these results in losses to the bank. Loan portfolio management is very important but most times a bank can’t fully assess if it will retrieve the money back because even if the borrowers have been paying their dues on time, the economy might show shift and change the way things have always been. So, what do banks do then? They need to manage their credit risks.

The goal of credit risk management in banks is to maintain credit risk exposure within proper and acceptable parameters. It is the practice of mitigating losses by understanding the adequacy of a bank’s capital and loan loss reserves at any given time. For this, banks not only need to manage the entire portfolio but also individual credits.

How do banks set up a Credit Risk Management system?

Even though every bank may have their own approach to establishing credit risk management models, there are a few basic steps that every Credit Risk Management includes-

• A complete understanding of a bank’s own capital reserve.
• Understanding a bank’s overall credit risk based on individual, customer and portfolio levels.
• Implementing an integrated and quantitative credit risk solution to make an appropriate credit risk environment.
• The business model in place should be such that is ever-evolving, able to achieve real-time scoring to limit monitoring, have data visualization capabilities and business intelligence tools to make it available any time.
• Establishing a sound credit-granting process or criteria that will clearly indicate the bank’s target market. This should include appropriate credit administration, measurement and monitoring process.

These are some principle ways to set up a Credit Risk Management system that will help in minimizing risk and maximizing reputation and productivity. Often, banks do prefer having a consulting agency to look after their Credit Risk Management since managing credit risk is a tricky task due to a lot of recommendations and predictions, thus there shouldn’t be any possibility of loopholes in the process.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Credit Risk Management?

The advantages-
• It helps in predicting and/ or measuring the risk factor of any transaction.
• It helps in planning ahead with strategies to tackle a negative outcome.
• It helps in setting up credit models which can act as a valuable tool to determine the level of risk while lending.

The disadvantages-
• Prediction is not entirely scientific, so judgement made can go either way.
• Cost and control of operating a credit scoring system are questionable.
• While different models may work, there are no guarantees. For this reason, some banks prefer ‘one model

Finally, …
Whether you’re trying to manage risk at your own company or you’re just trying to manage your credit, the study of credit risk management provides a framework for understanding the true nature of credit risk present in your organization. While profitability is a consideration, credit risk management is about seeing beyond profitability, and more precisely to help the CEO and CFO to develop a quantifiable sixth sense about operational cash flow.

4 Ways Predictive Analytics Can Help Banking Sector

Myriad challenges beset banking sector today – heavy regulations, evolving customer needs, increasing transaction volumes, increased high-tech financial crimes and rapid technological changes to name a few. Managing these challenges requires timely and deeper insights on risk, customer relationships, costs, revenues, and other key parameters. How do the banks get access to such insights? The answer is- using Predictive Analytics.

Predictive Analytics is a stream of advanced analytics which uses new as well as historical data to forecast activity, behavior, and trends to predict the future. This involves data mining, modeling, employing statistical analysis techniques, and automated machine learning algorithms to make the predictions. It helps organizations discover business issues in real time and address them at the right time to get the best outcomes.

Application of Predictive Analytics solutions in the banking industry include the following:

1. Credit Scoring: Advances in technology have enabled financial lenders to reduce lending risk by making use of a variety of data about customers. Employing statistical and machine learning techniques, available data is analyzed and boiled down to a single value known as a credit score representing the lending risk. The higher the credit score, the more certain a lender can be of the customer’s creditworthiness. Credit scoring is a form of artificial intelligence based on predictive modeling that determines the likelihood of a customer defaulting on a credit obligation, becoming delinquent or insolvent. The greatest benefit of credit scoring is the capability to help make decisions in a fast and efficient way, such as to accept or reject a customer or increase or decrease loan value, interest rate, or term.

2. Fraud detection: With advancement in cashless transactions, most physical and time-consuming procedures have been replaced by fast and convenient, real-time payments. But all this convenience has led to a rise in online fraudulent activities like phishing, application fraud, identity fraud, and card skimming. Combining multiple analytics methods can act as effective antifraud solutions and prevent criminal behavior using improved pattern detection. Two such solutions developed by CRIF, a credit information company in India, are IDENCHECK and SHERLOCK by CRIF. While the former is designed to enhance your existing KYC verification processes by providing digital capabilities to check against Government and other public databases, the latter brings around powerful anti-fraud solution to help detect and investigate application and identity frauds like never before.

3. Collections: Every bank has a set of customers who pay behind time, and as such, collections become an integral activity. What needs though, is channelizing of energies in the right direction. Predictive analytics helps banks distinguish between the various portfolio risks effectively, by optimizing the collections process. It helps banks segregate risky customers from the risk-free ones. This can help banks devise actions and strategies to achieve positive results.

4. Cross-selling: Efficient cross-selling of products can happen by analyzing the existing customer behavior patterns at places where multiple products are offered. This analysis can help identify which specific products are to be sold to whom and help banks in channelizing their sales and marketing efforts. And all of this results in more effective cross-selling thus increasing profitability and strengthening the customer relationship. Today, retaining one profitable customer is a big task for banks, hence cross-selling another product to an existing customer helps a lot.

The above benefits are just a fraction of what banks can achieve using Predictive Analytics. To gain competitive advantage, banks should recognize the importance of data science, incorporate it in their decision-making process, and develop strategies based on the actionable insights from their customers’ data.

As An Immigrant, Here’s How You Can Build an International Credit Score in the US

If you are planning immigration to the US, credit score is probably one of the last things you would worry about. However, in the US, many of the essential expenses such as renting an apartment, buying a car, signing up for a cellphone plan or applying for a credit card, requires you to have a personal credit score.

Worrying whether it’s possible or not? The great news is that it is possible to establish credit in the U.S. It may take work but with right credit decisions, you can definitely sail your boat. This guide can help you get started with the steps you need take to build your credit in the United States:

Apply for a secured credit card:
The international banks are not likely to provide you any credit card directly, considering they cannot have a credit check on you without a credit history. The only option you have is to apply for a secured credit card (one that is backed up by funds) with a credit union or a local financial institute. If you manage to get yourself a credit card like a Macy’s or an American Express card, it can be used to purchase at the Macy’s retail stores or online, wherever the cards are accepted. Once in possession, try to make minor bills such as $30 to $50 with the card and repay back the full amount immediately. In this way, you will start creating a good credit history.

Subscribe for auto payments: Subscribing yourself for auto deductions ensures that your bill payments are done in a timely manner. The credit information companies in the US consider mobile and utility bill payments while building your credit report.

Use your spouse’s good history: If your spouse happens to be a US citizen with a good credit history, rejoice, for they have won half the game for you. You can apply for a joint account with them or become an authorized user on your spouse’s credit card. You can then buy a car or rent a house together!

Talk to the lender in person: It is always better to talk to the lender in person as then you can better explain your situation. This also helps establish your legitimacy with the lender and they can better analyze you.

Report your rents: Make sure you are paying your house rents electronically as you can now report the rent to the credit bureau. This is one good way to build your history.

Leverage your home bank relations: If you were a credit card owner with an international bank in India, you might be able to call the bank and get them to issue you a U.S. credit card based on your past relationship.

Do not share your SSN: The social security number in the US is like the Aadhar number in India. It is a unique number assigned to each individual and is connected with all your dealings. Your Social security number is required while buying something. Let’s say you share the number with someone who requires a telephone connection on that number. In the case that they were to default on paying their bills on time, it would reflect badly on your credit report and will hamper your credit score.

If you follow the above pointers, you will be smartly prepared for your stay in the US. But wait, there’s more! Always keep an eye on all accounts so you can identify and resolve problems quickly. Check your credit score regularly to track your progress. Pull your credit report at least once a year from any of the approved credit bureaus. It’s free and seeing what is being reported about you is illuminating. All the best!

What Are The Five Cs of Credit?

A bank or any other lender evaluates a potential borrower before granting a loan and handing out the money. This evaluation can be called credit risk assessment as the bank is trying to understand the risk of potential default by the borrower on this line of credit. The Five Cs of credit is a widely popular framework which considers five characteristics of the borrower to helps lenders gauge the creditworthiness of the borrowers.The 5 Cs of credit are Character, Collateral, Conditions Capacity, and Capital in no particular order. Let us understand what these 5 Cs stand for.

1. Character:
Sometimes also referred to as the credit history, a character is the first among the C’s (in our list). If you are one of those who thinks “what has good character got to do with a loan?” then oops! Your character is, in fact, one of the most apparent parameters by which lenders gauge your risk and trustworthiness. In financial terms, the character represents a borrower’s reputation for repaying debts. This information appears on the credit report generated by the credit information companies such as CRIF. Apart from credit score, the credit report also contains information about how much an applicant has borrowed in the past and whether they have repaid loans on time. Information from these reports helps lenders assess the borrower’s credit risk.

Beyond your credit, lenders may also take a literal approach to the word “character” and analyze your personal attributes. They may conduct an interview or require references. Be polite, prompt, and prepared when you approach a lender. That might just make the difference to your loan approval.

2. Capacity:
Every lender must make sure that it is lending money to someone who has the capacity (or simply income or wealth) to repay. It is a measure of the borrower’s ability to repay a loan by comparing income against recurring debts and assessing the borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. The DTI is calculated by adding together a borrower’s total monthly debt payments and dividing that by the borrower’s gross monthly income. The lower an borrowers DTI, the better the chance of qualifying for a new loan. Every lender is different, but many lenders prefer an applicant’s DTI to be around 35% or less before approving an application for new financing.

3. Capital:
Lenders consider any capital put by the borrower in their investment, in other words, the own contribution or the down payment. A large contribution by the borrower minimizes the chance of default. Borrowers who can place a down payment on a home, for example, typically find it easier to receive a loan. Down payments indicate the borrower’s level of seriousness and whether the borrower’s goals are realistic and in congruence with the paying potential. Down payment amount can also affect the rates and terms of a borrower’s loan. Larger down payments may result in better interest rates and terms.

4. Collateral:
Collateral is any personal asset that the borrower pledges in order to support the loan. It acts as a lender’s back up in case you abscond or are genuinely unable to repay your loan. After all, it’s a business and none of the two parties would want to be at a loss. In the case of a loan default, the lender will have to liquidate your assets which have been put as security against the loan. The collateral can be your house property, land, equipment, inventory, real estate, accounts receivable, or any other item holding monetary value in the market. Banks measure collateral quantitatively by its value and qualitatively by its ease of liquidation. The simple formula is; Risky collateral = difficult to liquidate = more expensive loan. Most obvious examples of collateral include houses, cars, stocks, bonds, and cash, basically, all things that are readily convertible into cash to repay the loan.

5. Conditions
The conditions of the loan, such as its interest rate and amount of principal, influence the lender’s decision to finance the borrower. Conditions can refer to how a borrower plans to use the money. For instance, if a borrower applies for a car loan or a house loan the lender is more likely to approve the loan because the intent is specific and clear. Additionally, lenders may also consider factors such as the state of the economy, the trends in your business’s industry current environmental conditions, and even geographic or political events. The point is that, for conditions, lenders look for factors beyond your business alone that might affect whether you can make good on your debt.

Understanding what your lenders are looking for will help you prepare a better loan application. And, hopefully, this carefully-crafted application will help secure a better loan for your personal or business use. CRIF is a consumer credit bureau providing free credit report & credit score for both persons and businesses.

How To Review Your Business Credit Report? – An Infographic

As the financially savvy consumer you are, you know why your personal credit score is a big deal, and where you can go to get your FREE credit report. But as the financially savvy business owner, do you know why your business credit score matters, or where you can find and review your business credit report to monitor your score?
Business Credit Score

How To Review Your FREE Credit Score Report? – An Infographic

Credit reports provides information about your credit activity, payment history and the status of your credit accounts based on reporting from creditors and other sources. These reports are crucial because credit card issuers and lenders check them to help determine things like whether you’re a credit risk, what interest rate they’ll offer you, and the amount of your credit limit. With so much information, where do you even start when it comes to reviewing your credit reports? Let’s take a look.

Personal Credit Score

Do’s and Don’t To Improve Your Credit Score – An Infographic

Credit score, a three-digit number that evaluates an individual’s creditworthiness, is an important aspect of financial profile. It is used to determine some of the most important financial factors in life, such as whether you’ll be able to finance a vehicle, qualify for a home loan or even get a credit card. A good credit score ensures easier approvals on loan, better interest rates, bigger credit limits in credit cards and many more such advantages that will not only give you an enhanced financial life but also a better lifestyle.

A good credit score ranges from 700 to 900 when you have streamlined finance with timely payments and repayments and any score below 500 is considered as a bad credit score which usually is an outcome of undisciplined financial behaviour. Following are just some of the key ways to ensure you keep your credit score, well above average

Do's and Dont's Infographic