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Credit Tops Age and Weight as Most Embarrassing Subject

[Friday, May 9th, 2014]

Most people don’t go around telling everyone how much they weigh, or how old they are. But faced with the choice of broadcasting those personal details or divulging how much credit card debt they carry, they’d more readily offer up their weight and age than their credit card balance.

A survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) showed that when it comes to numbers, some are more embarrassing to admit than others. Besides the dollar amount of consumer debt they have, people are also reluctant to reveal their credit scores.

When 2,168 people were asked what they’d be most ashamed to admit—their age, weight, bank balance, credit score or credit card debt—37% said their credit card debt was the most taboo topic. Thirty percent shuddered at the idea of disclosing their credit score in polite company. In comparison, personal information like weight (12%) and age (a paltry 1%) didn’t seem like such a big deal. And though they didn’t want to talk about credit, only 10% were shy about the idea of telling people how much money they have in the bank.

That could be because many of us have a fraught relationship with credit, according to NFCC spokesperson Gail Cunningham. “Since consumers revealed that the two facts they’d be most embarrassed to admit are related to credit, it is obvious they are not comfortable with how they are currently managing their money,” she said.

The NFCC warns that credit card debt can be a red flag that someone is “in the financial danger zone.” They urge consumers not to charge more to their credit card than they can afford to pay off each month.

High credit card balances can lead to late payments, which lead to late fees—all of which can add up to a lowered credit score. And credit-scoring models take into account how much credit a person has available, compared to how much credit they are using. More debt and less available credit drags credit scores down.

For an optimal credit score, the NFCC recommends that folks keep their credit card balances at less than 30% of their available credit. In addition, they should make all credit card payments on time and follow the terms and conditions of their credit cards.

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