Credit reporting in one form or another dates back more than a century, to a time when small retail merchants traded information about their customers' payment history.
Over time the idea expanded, and by 1958 a company known as Fair Isaac Corporation created a credit scoring system using a numerical scale to rate consumers' credit worthiness.
In 1971, Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which gives consumers the right to see their credit reports, dispute inaccurate information and correct their records.
Now you can check on your credit report once a year for no charge by visiting the Web site at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that includes things such as your payment history, how much credit you use, how long you've had credit, what kinds of credit you use, and how often you request new credit.
Credit agencies using Fair Isaac, created two hypothetical consumers, one who starts out with a fair-to-middling score of 680 and the other with a very good one of 780.
(FICO scores range from 300 to 850.)
Here are the average hit your credit will take if your late for a rent or other payment. Remember anyone who has extended you 'credit' report your performance to a CRA: