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WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOUR CREDIT HISTORY WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT YOU GOES BEYOND QUALIFYING FOR A CREDIT CARD

 HAVRE DE GRACE, Md., May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Virtually every active consumer who shops on credit - as many as 200 million Americans, or 95 percent of the population, by some estimates -- is included in the databases of at least one of the three major national credit reporting bureaus. That means your personal credit history has become a product that can be bought and sold in the ever-growing marketplace of electronic consumer information.
 And that's why it's so important for you to know what your credit history says about you, warns Bob Bouza, president of the secured credit card division of Key Federal Savings Bank in Maryland. Even if you don't need or want credit, establishing a positive credit history can open other doors for you because it is an invaluable means of documenting your ability to pay your debts and manage finances responsibly.
 "Your credit history is one of the first things a lender looks at when you apply for a loan or credit card," explains Key Federal's Bouza. "Obviously, you need a good history if you're going to borrow money. But credit histories are now being used as a background check for any number of other activities that involve payments or financial responsibilities."
 To illustrate, Bouza cites employers who pull credit histories for job applicants or borderline employees, landlords who require credit histories from prospective tenants, utility companies that request credit histories before installing any new hookups and banks that even need credit histories before opening new accounts.
 "It's critically important to establish a positive credit history," Bouza says. One way to do that is through a secured credit card program. Secured credit cards were pioneered by Key Federal specifically for consumers who've had trouble qualifying for traditional credit cards, either because they've had past financial difficulties, like a bankruptcy, or never established credit to begin with. A secured card is simply a standard MasterCard or Visa card that is backed by the cardholder's interest-earning savings account.
 Since the card's credit line is "secured" by the amount of the deposit, Bouza reports that cardholders are more likely to stay within their limit. Used responsibly, the secured card is an excellent vehicle for establishing a positive credit history whether you are starting out -- or starting over.
 Key Federal has published a free 24-page consumer guide to personal credit issues, "Managing Your Credit." It provides practical advice and useful methods for dealing with credit bureaus and correcting credit histories, and is available with a free phone call to Key Federal toll- free number, 1-800-228-5757.
 A credit history is a record of your applications for credit (primarily loans and credit cards) and a report of your payment patterns. This information is collected and maintained by one or all of the three major credit bureaus which operate nationally: Equifax C.I.S. (based in Atlanta), Trans-Union C.R.C. (in North Olmstead, Ohio) and TRW Information Services (in Dallas). They report your credit history in response to authorized inquiries from lenders, employers, landlords and other sources.
 To learn just what your credit history says about you, contact one of the credit bureaus to examine your credit report, says Bouza; it usually costs about $25, but in some circumstances it may be free. Check it carefully to make sure the information is accurate and complete; add any corrections, comments or explanations that will clarify your situation. The credit bureau is required to include this information in response to any new inquiry about your credit history. Your rights concerning your credit records are protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1971 and other federal legislation.
 -0- 5/4/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos, interviews available./
 /CONTACT: Frank Carollo of McKamy Marketing Communications, 212-953-2290, for Key Federal Savings Bank/


CO: Key Federal Savings Bank ST: Maryland IN: FIN SU:

LR-OS -- NYFNS1 -- 4106 05/04/93 07:30 EDT
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Date:May 4, 1993
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