More than a thousand Wells Fargo & Company team members are expected to volunteer in classrooms and nonprofits in Los Angeles as part of Get Smart About Credit, a national financial education program about the responsible use of credit.
"Understanding how to build credit and how to use it responsibly helps consumers make decisions that lead to financial success," said Evelin Martinez, District Manager at Wells Fargo. "Making wise financial decisions is easier when you're well informed and we want to give our customers tools to chart a path toward a successful financial future."
The education outreach is part of the 11th annual American Bankers Association National Get Smart About Credit Day. This is the eighth year Wells Fargo has participated in the initiative, and the company is continuing to expand its participation to include schools and nonprofit organizations during the entire month of October. In 2012, more than 1,000 team member volunteers donated 4,000 hours of time to teach 1,400 credit classes that reached more than 65,000 people.
Throughout October, Wells Fargo team member volunteers will use the company's free, online Hands on Banking/ El futuro en tus manos money management program to discuss topics such as lending and trustworthiness, credit and spending limits, credit histories and the cost of credit. Hands on Banking, which debuted in 2003, saw a 77 percent increase in traffic in 2012 with 280,000 unique visitors from more than 190 countries. The article titled "About Credit Cards" was by far the most popular.
"Promoting financial education is one of Wells Fargo's core values," said Angel Zapata, national Hands on Banking manager. "Credit-related education is one of the most popular subjects within our free Hands on Banking program, so we're very pleased that we can put some special focus on it during our annual participation in Get Smart About Credit and help individuals and families learn more about how to manage their credit wisely."
Five Steps to Strong Credit
Taking control of your finances can help you manage your money and build a stronger credit history.
1. Check your credit Report: Once a year, consumers can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies ÔÇô Equifax, Experian and Transunion ÔÇô at AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Review the reports carefully and correct any errors.
2. Understand the factors that affect your credit: Your credit score gives lenders a snapshot of your credit risk. By understanding what impacts your score, you may be able to improve it.
3. Raise your credit score: Managing your credit responsibly over time is one of the best ways to improve your credit score. Five key criteria are generally used to calculate a consumer's credit score:
ÔÇó Payment History: information about whether you've made on-time payments has the most impact on your score.
ÔÇó Credit Accounts: A balanced mix of different types of credit can help improve your score.
ÔÇó Credit Usage: Owing a lot or being near your credit limit on multiple accounts negatively impacts your score.
ÔÇó Length of Credit History: Reviewers check to see if you can responsibly manage credit accounts over time.
ÔÇó Credit Applications: Opening multiple new credit accounts may represent a greater risk for lenders.
4. Create and monitor your budget: A budget gives you more control over your finances and helps you eliminate unnecessary expenses.
5. Know what lenders look for. When consumers apply for a loan, lenders assess their credit risk based on a number of factors, often called the Five Cs of Credit:
ÔÇó Credit history. Have you established credit and is your credit score high enough to qualify you?
ÔÇó Capacity. Is your income sufficient?
ÔÇó Collateral. Does the collateral you're borrowing against have enough value?
ÔÇó Capital. Do you have assets set aside as another source for repayment?
ÔÇó Conditions. Does the current economy or purpose for the credit make it a risk?
Wells Fargo offers a variety of free tools designed to help individuals at any life stage learn ways to manage their finances more responsibly. For more information and resources about how to use credit sensibly to achieve financial goals, visit http://www.wellsfargo.com/creditsmart.