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Find Your True Credit Score

Getting an accurate number can be tricky — here's how to make sure you really know your credit rating

Each of the bureaus sells FICOs to lenders, and the formulas can be tweaked for different industries, so your revolving-credit FICO may be somewhat different from your auto-loan FICO. ( You can buy a FICO score for $19.95 from MyFico.com.) Because FICO doesn't have the same dominance in the insurance industry, people who pay higher premiums due to their credit rating will likely see the insurer's proprietary score or a LexisNexis Attract score, which uses info in your credit reports to predict whether you'll cost insurers money.

Quick tip: Score Better Insurance Rates

Several states restrict how insurers use credit information. Others (including California, Hawaii, Maryland, and Massachusetts) have full or partial bans on the practice. If your state doesn't, and your credit scores are low, buy coverage through an insurance broker who can find an insurer that won't penalize you.

As AARP The Magazine's personal finance columnist, Liz Weston offers advice on everything from car loans to home sales. Read more articles by Liz Weston.

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