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Buying a Car? Check Your Credit Score First
Do you check your credit score and credit report before you go shopping for a car? You might find out that it is well worth your while to do so, as some auto dealers are taking advantage of the fact that many consumers do not know their credit scores.
No one likes buying a car; the entire process is awkward and cumbersome. Most items we buy are plainly marked with the price, but with cars, the price is often a mystery. Then you have to haggle with a salesman and hope that you have worked out the best price possible. Having done that, you have to arrange financing. You can often get an acceptable interest rate when financing through the dealer, but some dealers are padding their bottom line by offering loans at higher rates than they otherwise might.
The scam works like this – You negotiate your best price with the dealer and you agree to finance through them. You fill out the credit application and hand it over to the salesman, who has promised you some reasonable terms. He takes off to process the application and to check your credit report while you have a cup of coffee. He returns a few minutes later, shaking his head. He informs you that your credit score is only 600 and that you will not qualify for the interest rate he offered you. He says that you will have to pay a higher rate. And not knowing any better, you agree.
Had you done your homework by checking your credit score ahead of time, you would have known your actual credit score and you could have pointed out that the salesman's assessment of your credit score was incorrect. At that point, you could insist upon receiving the more favorable interest rate or threaten to finance elsewhere. This is a common scam that works because most people really do not know their exact credit score.
Learning your credit score is easy. All you have to do is visit the Websites of one of the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Trans Union or Equifax. For a modest fee, you can receive a copy of your credit report with your credit score. Armed with this useful piece of information, you can shop for a car with a bit more peace of mind, knowing ahead of time whether or not you can qualify for the best financing.
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