Your credit card is your emergency financial resource. When the unexpected happens, that credit card can be your saving grace for immediate funds. Credit cards also help boost your credit score, if you pay on time, use them appropriately and don’t max out your credit limit. Many consumers find, though, that their credit card statements are filled with crazy acronyms that make understanding all the fine print a confusing headache.
When you’re checking out your statements, agreements or card notices, learning these acronyms is a must. These commonly used abbreviations help you decipher your finances and also may help you decode your rights as a consumer.
If you find that you cannot translate all those three and four-letter credit card codes, use our easy to understand guide to all the credit card acronyms that are lurking in those statements.
Your Account: Acronyms Related to Interest Rates & More
Every month your card company sends you an account statement. This tells you your balance, payment expectations and details all the expenditures over the past month. These statements are often riddled with acronyms that are associated with your interest rates, payment methods and possibly even your card identification. Here are all the terms you need to know about your account and that card:
APR: The APR is the Annual Percentage Rate of interest that the bank charges. Rates vary according to your credit score, purchases, your payment history among other factors. Balance transfers or cash advances may be subject to higher or lower APR. If you make a late payment, there might be a stipulation that the bank can increase your APR. Please make sure to check your credit card’s terms and and conditions.
AMOP: Means ‘alternative methods of payment’ and denotes any non-cash payment. This could be debit, credit, and even bonus programs.
CVV: This is that three-digit number on the back of your card; the acronym stands for “card verification value.” The code is used to determine the authenticity of a card.
Credit Reporting Acronyms Explained
Your credit card can help you build and grow your credit. Using a credit account responsibly may help boost your credit score and help you qualify for better loans and interest rates. Every detail on how you use that card, however, is reported to the three crediting bureaus. Low balances and on-time payments may result in a glowing report to the agencies and may bump up your score. However, high balances, overextended credit (a maxed out card) and late payments may lower your score.
Consumers can review their credit scores by running their free credit report through the three major reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. And, yes, these reports have even more acronyms to learn, lucky for us! Here are all the terms you need to know:
RMCR – An RMCR is a Residential Merged Credit Report, sometimes called a Residential Mortgage Credit Report. The RMCR combines the results of your three credit reports into one “merged”, easier-to-read credit report.
CDIA – CDIA is the Consumer Data Industry Association, which is an international trade association of the credit reporting industry.
CRA – A CRA is a commonly used acronym for a credit reporting agency or credit rating agency. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are three of the largest credit reporting agencies, although there are several more.
VSS – VSS is VantageScore Solutions, which is the company that maintains the VantageScore credit scoring system.
FICO – FICO® is Fair Isaac Corporation, which is the company that maintains the FICO® credit scoring system. FICO® scores are the most used credit scores in the world and are available through all of the major CRAs. The company also provides analytics software and tools to multiple industries.
Credit Disputes & the Courts: Acronyms You Need to Know
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Victims of Identity Theft, 2014 report, identity theft affect an estimated seven percent of Americans (over the age of 16) in 2014. The report also found that “the majority of identity theft victims (86%) experienced the fraudulent use of existing account information, such as credit card or bank account information.”
Identity theft is a crime that is capable of destroying the victim’s life and finances, and because identity theft is so problematic consumers need to be vigilant when it comes to their accounts and credit information. If you notice unfamiliar and unauthorized charges on your credit card account, you’ll need to take action. However, if your identity has been compromised, other credit accounts and loans might have been established in your name and this could complicate the process of repairing the damage.
If you have been the victim of identity theft, these are the commonly used acronyms that refer to credit card disputes as well as information about common court-related terms. Sometimes the crime of identity theft can be so devastating, that the battle grows to involve the justice system and the courts.
Identity theft isn’t the only reason these acronyms might be useful, though. If you’ve hit financial hard times and you’re in over your head, you may see these terms for other reasons:
ACDV – An Automated Credit Dispute Verification form is used by the credit reporting agencies to communicate consumer disputes to lenders and collection agencies. The non-automated predecessor to the ACDV was the CDV, which stands for Consumer Dispute Verification form.
AUD – An Automated Universal Data form is used by lenders and collection agencies to proactively correct or modify information on a consumer’s credit reports. The non-automated predecessor to the AUD was the UDF, which stands for Universal Data Form.
e-OSCAR – Online Solution for Complete and Accurate Reporting is the communication protocol used by the credit reporting agencies to communicate disputes to their furnishing companies, normally a lender or a collection agency.
PACER – Public Access to Court Electronic Records is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts and is used by the credit reporting agencies to collect bankruptcy information, which is then placed on consumer credit reports.
AA Letter – An AA letter is an “Adverse Action” letter. If you are denied credit, in part or in whole, because of your credit report and/or credit score, the lender is obligated by the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) to send you an Adverse Action letter letting you know the reasons you were denied.
DMP – A Debt Management Program (or “Plan”) is a service offered by credit counselors that are members of the National Foundation for Credit Counselling (or “NFCC”). The DMP is a systemic way to pay down your credit card debt.
When you’re reviewing your credit card statements and documents, all those acronyms can be hard to understand. However, learning the meanings behind those letters helps you become more empowered and educated about your credit terms, your rights, and the laws that guide them. Acronyms are a simple means for companies to shorten up their content as they communicate with consumers, and deciphering their meaning sometimes takes a cheat sheet. But once you understand all the meanings, you can make more informed financial decisions and take charge of your credit.