News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Kate Mielitz knows a thing or two about credit.
"We haven't seen a huge influx of oh my gosh, it's January, it's 2013, and all of a sudden people are knocking on my door [saying] my credit has fallen, my credit has fallen," Mielitz said.
For the past four years, she's been helping people in Augusta beef their credit scores up at a local nonprofit.
"We have clients that come in -- they're just so burdened with debt," she said.
But the manager for Consumer Credit Counseling Services says our area now has another burden it doesn't deserve.
A recent study by TransUnion ranks Augusta as the sixth worst in the nation when it comes to credit scores.
"I'm very surprised at that number. I really don't know how they come up with that figure," said Larry Moss, president of the Augusta Mortgage Company.
A 30-year-veteran to the mortgage business, Moss isn't giving the results any credit at all.
"In today's market, credit scores of 640 or higher are really what the market is looking for," he said.
The average credit score in Augusta is 709.
So why the low ranking?
TransUnion used a different scoring system than the more commonly used FICO scoring system. They did it on purpose, too ... to help people understand there's more than one way to gauge credit.
But both local experts worry this is only going to confuse people even more.
"In general, Americans across the board -- we don't have the education in high school that we need," Mielitz said.
So instead of trying to rank the best and the worst, they believe the main focus should be helping people understand what credit is and what it means.
"It's more than are you making your payments on time, it's more how are you managing your credit," Moss said.