By Mary Nunez/ reporter

Credit scores affect many parts of one’s life, a speaker told NE Campus students April 11.

Joe Rodriguez, NE financial aid specialist, gave tips to keep in mind when it comes to improving credit scores and avoiding identity theft.

“Interest is the cost of using credit, and the lower the better,” he said. “Good credit scores mean lower interest rates.”

Building a good credit reputation is an investment since, eventually, it will mean paying less in a loan as well as increasing the chances of getting loans, Rodriguez said.

He used a slideshow comparing people with good and bad credit scores taking the same loan amount. Then it showed the difference between what each would pay. The one with the better credit score always benefited.

The major credit reporting agencies TransUnion, Equifax and Experian were another topic discussed. Rodriguez encouraged students to obtain their credit reports.

“You can request a free credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com from each agency every year,” he said. “That’s three credit reports per year if you play your cards right.”

Rodriguez also advised students to keep an eye on identity theft, especially to those who have filled out their FAFSA.

“Just be aware that they did hack the IRS through FAFSA’s data retrieval tool,” he said. “Keep an eye on your credit report for anything that might seem suspicious, that’s why when you go and do your ’17-’18 FAFSA now, the data retrieval tool is not available.”

Some steps he gave to protect identity were to check credit reports regularly, never share Social Security numbers with anyone, keep PINs safe and hard to guess and use credit instead of debit when shopping online and on regular transactions.

These workshops are provided for students who are required to improve their academic standing and to continue getting financial aid.