BETA
Close

Debunking Common Credit Myths

Career

When it comes to your finances, understanding credit and how it works can be one of the most confusing and frustrating aspects. Myths and misconceptions about credit scores run rampant, so it can be difficult to know what’s what. Even if you have the best intentions, it can end up being costly to make a mistake as a result of not understanding how credit works. Here are 6 of the most common credit myths, debunked.


1: Closing a lot of credit cards will improve my credit score.

Your credit score takes the average length of your credit accounts into consideration, so closing a credit card you’ve had for a long time can actually have a negative impact on your score. Your score is also determined based on the amount of available credit you have, so closing a credit card with a high credit limit can decrease your debt-to-available-credit ratio. Try to avoid closing too many credit cards at once and consider just putting some of your credit cards aside so you can leave them open without actually using them.

Photo courtesy of Digital Brainiac

2: I don’t have any credit cards or debt, so I must have a good credit score.

A lack of credit or debt can actually make you appear unfavorable in the eyes of a lender. Lenders gauge your creditworthiness based on your history of responsible credit use.

A limited history of credit (and on-time payments) can actually result in a lower score and a lender seeing you as a risky borrower. However, there are steps you can take to build your credit from scratch.

Photo courtesy of Brimg

3: Checking my credit report will lower my credit score.

Checking your own credit report is considered a “soft inquiry” and will have no effect on raising or lowering your credit score. You can check your credit report annually for free with each of the 3 bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax).

4: I always pay my bills on time – therefore I must have a high credit score.

While payment history does make up a significant portion of your credit score, other factors are taken into consideration as well. Your credit score is also determined by your length of credit history, amount owed, types of credit, and number of credit inquiries.

5: I make a lot of money, so I must have a good credit score.

Your income or the amount of money you have saved in the bank has no bearing on your credit score, other than the fact that this may enable you to make your minimum monthly payments. Other information that is not included on your credit report is your ethnicity, criminal record, political affiliation, religion, medical history, and gender.

6: With a bad credit score, I can never get a loan.

This is not necessarily true. While it will certainly be more difficult, there are companies willing to lend to people with lower scores. However, you will likely have a higher interest rate than someone with good credit. An alternative is to have someone cosign a loan for you, though this option should be approached with caution.

When it comes to your finances, knowledge is power. Educating yourself on how to build the perfect credit history will turn you into a prime candidate for things like a mortgage or personal loan. Now that you know some of the most common myths about credit, get to work on boosting your score!

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.