Veronica stared at the number on her screen – the lowest credit score possible, considered “very bad” across the major credit scoring models.
It was her first time seeing her credit score.
“That’s good right?” she asked her coworker, assuming the triple digits were a positive sign.
Veronica Mondragon was working as an Allstate® Insurance agent and had an opportunity to open up her own agency. The company was willing to give her a $250,000 business loan, but she needed at least a 650 credit score to qualify.
Her coworker was frank. “Girl, no. We need to work on this.”
Early money influences
Veronica grew up in Dallas, Texas with her parents and siblings. From a young age, she was aware of how stressful money could be. Her parents bickered about it and it only seemed to cause problems.
There was never enough of it.
As she earned money on her own, Veronica became a supersaver, finding comfort in having a financial cushion. But it wasn’t until she was 21 years old and working at Statefarm® that she knew about credit and the power it had on the future she wanted.
Both her parents are immigrants from Guerrero, a coastal state in Mexico. Her mom a city girl from Acapulco and her dad a ranch boy.
Since neither had a Social Security number, they couldn’t access credit cards or loans, so credit scores were never something that came up at home.
Rebuilding after identity theft
When most people open their first line of credit they don’t get a credit score number until several months later, after establishing some credit behaviors. Veronica was immediately faced with the 300 credit score because someone in her family stole her identity.
“My credit score was at a 300 before I was even out of diapers,” Veronica shared.
As she took on the task of improving her score, she also had to go through the long, paperwork-heavy process of trying to prove to the credit bureaus that she was, in fact, three years old and not 39 when the credit lines were opened. She opened a police investigation and submitted her birth certificate and other documentation to prove her claim was legit.
“I didn’t know the severity of it. I was just like, ‘Okay, no big deal. I can fix it.’ But once I started the journey, that’s when I realized it was a big deal,” Veronica said.
It took six years for Veronica to increase her FICO® score from 300 to 427 and her VantageScore® from 300 to 520 – still stuck in the “very poor” score category half a decade later.
The StellarFi difference
Last year Veronica came across a StellarFi ad as she scrolled Instagram. She signed up on the spot, intrigued by the possibility of being able to improve her score with the bills she was already paying.
Veronica pays her cell phone, Wi-Fi, light bill, subscriptions, and even her rent through StellarFi, knowing the on-time payments and continually increasing credit limit will get reported to the credit bureaus.
In just one year with StellarFi, Veronica’s score had a bigger increase than in her six years improving it on her own. Her score went from 427 to 689 – a 262-point increase.
Breaking generational cycles
Veronica no longer needs her husband to cosign documents because of her credit score. When she decides to trade in her Honda, she’ll get approved for a car loan. And the four-bedroom house in the countryside with space for her three and nine-year-old sons, her dog, Winter, and a few chickens to raise, is possible in the next few years.
And with her comes a new generational cycle as she teaches her two sons financial literacy so they’re not confronted with the realities she dealt with.
“I feel like I was considered the bottom of the barrel and StellarFi gave me a chance. So if StellarFi can give me a chance, I feel like StellarFi can give a chance to anybody.”