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Lee Street Apartment Rentals
 Chicago and Evanston Apartment Rentals
Vintage Rental Apartments   Chicago   Rogers Park   Evanston
Chicago Apartments
for Rent. We allow Pets.

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OFFICE: (773) 761-3300    FAX: 773) 465-7733
7601 North Eastlake Terrace    Chicago, IL 60626

Frequently Asked Questions about
Credit Reports and Scoring Systems

About Credit Scores

Can I share this information with my landlord?
About FICO Scores

About Credit Scores

What is a FICO credit score?
FICO is an acronym from the name Fair, Isaac, and Company, the company that created this popular scoring system. The three major credit repositories (bureaus) use this system to quantify credit report information. This system was created to overcome the lack of uniformity, unprofessionalism and subjectivity that was common in the credit analysis industry.

Will ordering my score cause my FICO score to drop?

No. Ordering a report of your credit score is considered an inquiry only and will not change your score.

Which credit reporting agency should I select?

Alll three major credit-reporting agencies offer FICO scores for making credit decisions.

What is a FICO score analysis?

A FICO score analysis gives you a detailed, plain-language explanation of your current FICO score. This includes how your score compares to FICO scores nationally and what your score says to creditors about your likelihood to repay. In addition, a review of the reason codes delivered with your FICO score helps you learn what specific factors affected your final score, and what you can do to improve your credit rating over time.

Will my score actually change over time?

Yes, it's normal for scores to change. Your FICO score today is likely different from your FICO score of a few weeks ago. Your score changes when the underlying information on your credit report changes. Since this can happen anytime, lenders usually make decisions based on your most current FICO score and not on yesterday's score.

How much will my score change over time?

How much your score changes depends on how you are managing your credit. If you manage your credit consistently over time, your score should remain quite stable. You'll see bigger changes in your score if you significantly change your credit behavior by opening new credit accounts, for example, or by changing account balances in a big way, or not paying your bills on time.

Is my score more likely to go up or down?

That depends on a lot of things under your control. For example, if you manage your credit carefully by paying your bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, and only taking on as much new credit as you really need, then your score is likely to improve over time. But if you pay your bills late, carry high credit card balances or shop excessively for new credit, then your score will probably go down. Statistically, low scores are more likely to go up over time and higher scores are more likely to remain stable or go down over time. That's because it is harder to lower an already low score or to raise an already high score. If you do have a high score, don't worry when you see an occasional small move downward. Most lenders would not see this as negative since your score is still very good and represents a low credit risk.

What if I find an error on my credit report?

You should contact your credit bureau directly. They are required to investigate and respond to you within 30 days. If you are in the process of applying for a loan, immediately notify your lender of any incorrect information in your report. Your landlord will need to reorder your credit report and score once any changes have been made to your information at the credit bureau.

Once an error is fixed when is my score updated?

Your very next score will reflect the updated information. Since FICO scores are recalculated every time they are requested (rather than stored as part of your profile), they respond to meaningful changes instantly. What's a meaningful change? An update to your address, for example, would have no effect on your score. On the other hand, substantially lowering the balance on a maxed out credit card might have a notable impact on your score.

How will credit changes affect my score?

Its impossible to say exactly how important any single factor or new information is in determining your score. That's because the importance of each factor depends on the overall information in your credit report. In scoring, what's important is the mix of information, which varies from person to person and for any one person over time.

Can I share this information with my landlord?

Yes, but please be careful about sharing your personal credit information with anyone. It is unlikely that a landlord would use this credit report or score in considering a credit application. Most landlords will get a fresh credit report and FICO score to protect against the possibility that you may have altered the report before you delivered it to them.

What if I am denied because of an error on my credit report?

Nothing; at least at that moment. Lee Street Management does not accept explanations in lieu of an acceptable credit score. If you still want an apartment from us after a denial, you will have to undertake the correction of your credit report on your own and come back to us when it is better. As a concession to an applicant who is denied an apartment based on an erroneous credit report, we will not charge a second application fee if you reapply no sooner than six months after the denial. Your credit report can and will be used by creditors to check for discrepancies between any credit application and the report itself, or to verify that a debt has been satisfied. Discrepancies that cannot be explained may be regarded as falsifications and may subject your application to summary rejection.

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About FICO Scores

What is a FICO score?

It's a number lenders use to help them decide: "If I give this person a loan or credit card, how likely is it that I will get paid back on time?" A FICO score is a snapshot of your credit risk picture at a particular point in time. The higher your score, the lower the risk to lenders. "FICO" is short for Fair, Isaac and Company, which develops the mathematical formulas used to produce these scores.

How can I improve my FICO score?

Your FICO score analysis will suggest things you can do to improve your score overtime. Generally, people with high FICO scores consistently:
- Pay bills on time.
- Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit products.
- Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.

What's the most important factor in a Score?

FICO scores consider five main kinds of credit information. Listed from most important to least important, these are:
- Payment history.
- Amount owed.
- Length of credit history.
- New credit.
- Types of credit in use.

What do FICO scores ignore?

- Your race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status.
- Your age.
- Your salary, occupation, title, employer, date employed, or employment history.
- Where you live.
- Any interest rate being charged on a particular credit card or other account.
- Certain types of inquiries (such as promotional, account review, insurance or employment-related inquiries).
- Any information not found in your credit report.
- Any information that is not proven to be predictive of future credit performance.

What is a good FICO score?

Since there is no one "score cutoff" used by all lenders, it's hard to say what a good score is outside the context of a particular lending decision. Your lender may be able to give you guidance on the criteria for a given credit product.

How often does the score change?

Your credit file is continually updated with new information from your creditors. The FICO score is calculated based on the latest snapshot of information contained in your file at the time the score is requested. So your FICO score from a month ago is probably not the same score a lender would get from the credit reporting agency today. Fluctuations of a few points from month to month are quite common.

How are the FICO scores calculated?

Every FICO score is calculated at a credit reporting agency using a mathematical formula that evaluates many types of information on your credit report at that agency. By comparing your information to the patterns in millions of past credit reports, the score identifies your level of future credit risk.

What are the highest and lowest FICO scores?

FICO scores range from 300 to 850. The higher the score, the lower the predicted credit risk for lenders.

Why do lenders use FICO scores?

FICO scores provide an extremely valuable guide to future risk based solely on credit report data. The higher the consumer's score, the lower the risk to lenders when extending new credit to that consumer.

Does everyone have a FICO score?

For a FICO score to be calculated on your credit report, the report must contain at least one account which has been open for six months or longer. In addition, the report must contain at least one account that has been updated in the past six months. This ensures that there is enough information - and enough recent information - in your report to compute an accurate score.

Are there other types of scoring systems?

Yes, but FICO is the scoring system of choice for the three primary bureaus. FICO scores are calculated by the major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and Trans Union - using formulas developed by Fair, Isaac. The FICO scores are known as BEACON at Equifax, EMPIRICAŽ at Trans Union and the Experian/Fair, Isaac Risk Score at Experian.

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Chicago area Average Credit Usage Information

Number of Credit Accounts/Obligations
On average, the current consumer has a total of 11 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These accounts include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, or bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Not included in these numbers are savings and checking accounts (typically not reported to a credit bureau). Of these 11 credit obligations, consumers are more likely to have credit card obligations than installment loans at a ratio of 7:4.

Past Payment Performance
The average consumer is paying his bills on time. Fewer than 4 out of 10 have ever been reported as 30 or more days late on a payment. Only 2 out of 10 have ever been 60 or more days overdue on any credit obligation.  Eighty-five percent of all consumers have never had a loan or account that was 90+ days overdue, and less than 10% have ever had a loan or account closed by the lender due to default.

The chart below shows the likelihood of a ninety day delinquency for specific FICO scores.

  FICO Score  

Odds of a delinquent account



to 1
  600   4.5 to 1
  615   9 to 1
  630   18 to 1
  645   36 to 1
  660   72 to 1
  680   144 to 1
  700   288 to 1
  780   576 to 1

Credit Utilization
About half of the U.S. population is conservative with regard to credit balances. About 48% of credit card holders carry a balance of less than $1,000 and about 10% are far less conservative in their use of credit cards and have total card balances in excess of $10,000.  When we look at the total of all credit obligations combined (except mortgage loans), 54% of consumers carry less than $5,000 of debt. This includes all credit cards, lines of credit, and loans-everything but mortgages. Nearly 30% carry more than $10,000 of non-mortgage-related debt as reported to the credit bureaus

Total Available Credit
The typical consumer has access to $12,190 on all credit cards combined. More than half of all people with credit cards are using less than 30% of their total credit card limit. Just over 1 in 8 are using 80% or more of their credit card limit.

Length of Credit History
The average consumer's oldest obligation is 13 years old, indicating that he or she has been managing credit for some time. In fact, we found that 1 out of 5 consumers who recently applied for credit, had credit histories of 20 years or longer. Only 1 in 20 consumers had credit histories shorter than 2 years.

The average consumer has had only one inquiry on his or her accounts within the past year. Fewer than 7% had four or more inquiries resulting from a search for new credit. Self employed people have a considerably higher volume of inquiries.

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Reason Codes for Score Deductions

Your credit score is not the only thing that appears on your credit report. The score is often accompanied by one or more reason codes, which help explain your credit score. On your report, these reason codes are ordered by their importance in arriving at your credit score. They may just be numbers that can be looked-up on a chart, or they may be numbers accompanied by the corresponding reason descriptions.  Don't expect the reason codes to provide much information to you the consumer.

Reason codes are designed specifically for the landlord.  Landlords use reason codes in a couple of different ways. In theory, the reason codes should call attention to areas on your credit report that should be studied further.  In practice, the reason codes often are used just to make it easy for the landlord to generate a letter of declination, complete with reasons, should you happen to fall below the landlord's predefined minimum.  Interestingly, the landlord might see the same four reason descriptions for applicants having much lower or higher credit scores. The scores and the reasons are not necessarily interdependent. For the applicant, the reason descriptions often merely provide hints as to what might be improved to get a higher score.

Reason codes fulfill requirements of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.  According to the ECOA, when declining credit, a landlord can't just tell you "Your score wasn't high enough", or "You didn't meet our internal standards."  A statement of specific reasons must be provided, or you must be advised of your right to demand specific reasons. Credit scoring, accompanied by reason codes, helps the landlord provide reasons.  For the consumer reading his/her credit report, reason codes are often difficult to interpret. Here are a few popular reason codes and an explanation of what they mean:

Reason #1: Not all accounts paid as agreed. Recent delinquency
This reason code usually indicates that you've had some late payments or defaults. The more recent your late payments, the more heavily this reason code will weigh on your score.

Reason #2: Lack of recent information on apartment rentals, auto loans, revolving accounts, bank or credit accounts, or installment loans
This reason code will be weighed differently depending upon the type of credit you are seeking. For example, if you seek an auto loan, a score model that giving special weight to how you've handled auto loans might be used. Messages often indicate that the scoring model is not seeing recent activity in the category being evaluated.

Reason #3: Insufficient recent payment history
Loan balances too high, compared to original loan amount. Accounts not open long enough.  This message indicates that you probably have new loan that lacks payment history. Credit scoring requires current information, as well as a history. New loans may not be helpful to your score, because there is not enough history to see your repayment track record.

Reason #4: Number of accounts in total
This message indicates that you have too few or too many unsecured credit accounts. It's probably obvious which applies to you.

Reason #5: Recent legal filing or collection
Derogatory public records. Credit reporting agencies look at courthouse records - and this can affect your score. Transfer to a collection agency or collection account is also considered very derogatory.

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