Survey shows widespread misunderstanding of credit scores and student loans

Consumer Federation of America (CFA), in partnership with VantageScore Solutions, announced the results of a third-annual survey that measured consumer knowledge of credit scoring at a media-only teleconference on May 13. CFA is a nonprofit association of nearly 300 consumer groups founded in 1968 to advance consumer interests through research, advocacy, and education.

The 18-question survey was administered by Opinion Research Corp. (ORC) to more than 1,000 representative American consumers. The survey follows two similar studies that VantageScore Solutions and CFA commissioned from ORC in 2011 and 2012.

The results show large percentages of consumers incorrectly answered wide-ranging questions about credit scores and their impact. For example, many survey respondents do not know that credit card issuers (38 percent) and mortgage lenders (40 percent) use credit scores in decisions about credit availability and pricing. Two-fifths incorrectly believe that personal characteristics such as age (43 percent) and marital status (40 percent) are used in calculating credit scores.

This year’s survey also included a question related to co-signing for a student loan. The survey found between one-third and two-fifths do not know that the credit scores of student loan co-signers are affected by that loan—improving if payments are made on time (38 percent) and declining with one late payment (31 percent).

 “The student loan market has grown enormously over the past few years. Student loans are now the second largest asset class in the credit industry, trailing only the mortgage industry,” said Barrett Burns, president and CEO of VantageScore Solutions. “Unfortunately, student loan defaults are also increasing. We need targeted education to ensure both graduating students and co-signers of their loans fully understand their obligations and the repercussions of missed payments.”

As part of their educational partnership, VantageScore Solutions and CFA launched, a consumer-focused website that mimics the survey. It lets consumers test their credit scoring knowledge, and provides correct answers for each question as they progress through the quiz. The website is completely free and neither displays any advertising nor collects any personal data. Useful resources and real-time nationwide results are provided. Both the online quiz and a companion brochure are also available in Spanish at

“We are once again pleased to partner with VantageScore Solutions in order to better educate consumers about credit scores,” said Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director of CFA. “We encourage all consumers to take the credit score quiz and learn how to become better managers of credit.”

The full results of the survey are available on CFA’s website. News articles generated as a result of the survey announcement include:

Funny Money: Hobo or Boy Scout? Credit quiz tells the score
Chicago Tribune
20 May 2013 

What’s in a Credit Score? Few Know.
Bloomberg News/
16 May 2013

What you don’t know about your credit score can hurt you
15 May 2013 

Nuances of Credit Scoring Still Elude Consumers Bucks Blog
14 May 2013

Five Credit Score Misconceptions That Can Cost You
13 May 2013

Study Shows Widespread Ignorance on Credit Scores
American Banker
14 May 2013

Valued partners:
VantageScore Licensees:
Equifax Experian TransUnion