A consumer survey said 42% did not know that mortgage lenders use credit scores in decisions about credit availability and pricing; 40% said they did not know credit card companies used credit scores for the same purpose.

Credit scores have become so influential in the lives of consumers that tens of millions are severely disadvantaged by their lack of knowledge. Low credit scores will often cost car buyers more than $5,000 in additional finance charges, and cost home purchasers tens of thousands of dollars in additional mortgage loan costs. And low scores are likely to limit consumer access to cell phone service, car insurance, and rental housing

The survey also said between one-third and two-fifths of respondents said they did not know that the credit scores can improve if payments are made on time and declining with one late payment. More than one quarter said they did not know key ways to raise or maintain their scores–keeping credit card balances low and not applying for several cards at the same time. More than one-third were wrong in thinking credit repair agencies are helpful in correcting credit report errors.

People who fail to understand exactly what can impact their score have little incentive to manage the real things that truly do make a difference; such things as paying bills on time, keeping credit card balances low and not taking out unnecessary loans