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Credit-Card Debt Can Sink Your Credit Score

Credit-Card Debt Can Sink Your Credit Score
Photograph by Mike Kemp/Corbis

Your obligations to credit-card companies carry more weight on your credit report than bigger debts, such as home and student loans.

That’s one of the findings from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new report (PDF) on the credit scoring industry. The study examined how Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion collect and organize consumer credit information that is used to calculate credit scores. To come up with scores, the companies use information from thousands of different sources. Taken together, the score allows lenders to assess a consumer’s likelihood of paying back a loan, whether to offer a loan, and to calculate loan amounts and interest rates. Besides mortgage, auto, and educational loans, credit scores are also often a determining factor in apartment rentals and in hiring decisions (PDF).