Looking at your credit report is a bit like being in an episode of CSI. You’ll need to carefully pick apart the scene of the credit crime looking for the right clues. “No reason” really means “I don’t know” when it comes to credit score drops, and it usually takes nothing more than a little old-fashioned sleuthing to discover the no-reason reason.
The first step in your CSI Credit Crime adventure is to request copies of your credit report, which are available free to you once per year by law. The first crime you should eliminate is length of credit history. Not having enough of a credit history is an often hidden clue. In the industry this is called a thin credit file.
Have you closed a credit card lately? Recently closed accounts also provide a reason for “no reason” credit drops. Solve this credit crime by opening new accounts and being careful about what accounts you close in the future.
To get away with a credit crime or two, you need to know how to close accounts when you need to. As with all things in credit, there’s a right way and a wrong way. Keeping between four and six accounts open allows you to show companies you are using credit regularly and responsibly. Use one, pay it off in full every month and pay down on the rest. This is what creditors and credit-reporting bureaus want to see.
Don’t, however, close the oldest account you have. This is one of the most serious credit crimes you can commit. It makes your credit history appear shorter than it is and can cause your credit score to take a hit. Definitely don’t cancel several accounts all at once and don’t over-consolidate your cards so that you have too much debt in one place. Another reason your credit score can drop for “no reason” is when you use too much of a single available line of credit. Keep your credit balance below 30% of the total available credit.
Many no-reason credit crimes are committed unintentionally. While it’s often stated that your credit score takes a hit due to inquiries, this is largely overstated. You credit rating likely receives several inquiries per month from people wanting to issue you credit. These have a negligible effect on your credit. Even an inquiry into your credit rating from an employer or credit card application has a minor effect on your credit rating. Don’t spend too many crime scene investigation resources looking into inquiries.
When your credit score takes a dive for “no reason,” chances are it’s taken a dive for a reason – just not one you understand. Investigating your credit report with the attention of a CSI unit allows you to better appraise what “no reason” is the reason for your credit score’s recent dip so you can make the necessary repairs.