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What happened in February?

  • Number of accounts opened: 8
  • Inquiries: 1
  • Total revolving balances: $12,000
  • Total available credit: $96,450

Woah, what happened in January?

That’s what I was wondering too when I logged into my credit profile page within my WaMu/Providian credit card account.

As some of you know, I have been tracking my FICO credit score for the past few years. The last update was back in April of last year, and things have been pretty steady since. The dip from March ’07 to April ’07 was due to a large balance transfer offer that I took advantage of while opening a new Chase Freedom credit card (also received a $100 cash-back bonus).

Since no major changes have occurred to my credit profile since April of last year, the credit score should still be hovering around the same ranges. So what happened around January? Identity theft? Forgot to pay some obscure bill? Collection attempt that I wasn’t aware of?

A quick check with my free annual TransUnion credit report reveals an interesting update to one of my credit card account (ironically, the very credit card account that provides the credit score service):

Oh damn you WaMu and Providian.

My PayPal-branded-Providian-credit-card-turned-WaMu-card has had its credit limit lowered from $3,000 to $250. There is also a remark reading: “Dispute resolved reported by grantor.”

This is most likely due to a $37 fraudulent foreign transaction charge that appeared on this account back in November of 2007. Long story short, I never used the credit card and I was carrying a balance I wasn’t aware of. Except a post detailing WaMu’s horrid fraudulent charges claim process in the near future.

Other factors that may have contributed to the almost 100 point drop:

  • Higher credit card balance from big-ticket charges during the month
  • Some very short term balance transfers that may have appeared on two accounts at once

It’s a bit unfortunate that I didn’t notice the drop in score earlier, else I could have checked what factors were contributing to the change. Just in case you’re curious, the list below shows some of the factors that can also negatively affect your score.

Factors that Could Affect Your Credit Score Negatively:

  • Late payments. Especially 90+ day late payments.
  • Collections and other negative items. Stays on your report for 7 to 10 years. Pay your bills kids and all will be peachy.
  • High balance. Try your best to keep debt-to-limit ratio under 10%. The higher your ratio, the more your score takes a ding.
  • Too many new credits. Affects your overall average credit age and can reduce your credit score.
  • Too many one type of account (e.g., credit card accounts aka revolving accounts). A good mixture of credit type ensures a better score.
  • Inquiries. Too many hard credit pulls will hurt your score and hard pulls stays on your report for two years.
FICO Score Tracking Series:

  1. More Debt = Lower Score
  2. Who Cares About Credit Score?
  3. Lowest Score Ever
  4. Little Changes
  5. Nothing New, Yet
  6. Back Above 700!
  7. Breaking the 800 Mark
  8. What the Deuce?