Before lenders decide to give you a loan, they want to know that you are willing and able to repay that mortgage loan. To figure out your ability to repay, they assess your debt-to-income ratio. To assess your willingness to repay, they use your credit score.
Fair Isaac and Company calculated the original FICO score to assess creditworthines. We've written more about FICO here.
Credit scores only consider the info contained in your credit profile. They don't consider income or personal characteristics. These scores were invented specifically for this reason. "Profiling" was as dirty a word when these scores were first invented as it is today. Credit scoring was envisioned as a way to assess a borrower's willingness to pay without considering other demographic factors.
Your current debt level, past late payments, length of your credit history, and a few other factors are considered. Your score is calculated from the good and the bad in your credit history. Late payments count against your score, but a record of paying on time will raise it.
Your credit report should have at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This history ensures that there is sufficient information in your credit to generate an accurate score. Some people don't have a long enough credit history to get a credit score. They may need to spend some time building up credit history before they apply for a loan.
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