Although lending institutions have been using credit scores since the 1990s, most consumers still don't know what their credit score measures, what good and bad scores are, or how their scores can be improved.What's more, most consumers (81%) know that mortgage lenders use credit scores, but fewer (47%) know that insurers use them when underwriting homeowners policies.

These are the findings of a recent survey of 1,027 representative adult Americans administered by the Opinion Research Corp., Princeton, N.J., for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Washington, D.C., and Providian Financial Corp., a San Francisco-based credit card company.

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