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Holiday shopping season can be risky to consumer credit

Dec 21, 2010 Brian Bradley

The holiday shopping season comes with the joy of purchasing numerous gifts. However, this time of year can also come with significant pitfalls if spending and credit decisions are not closely monitored. According to new data from Consumer Reports, approximately 13.6 million people are still paying off credit card debt from purchases made in 2009. Meanwhile, people who use their credit cards spend 12 to 18 percent more than shoppers who use cash, Bill Hardekopf, CEO of, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Consumers should be wary of how much they use their credit cards. If shoppers spend more than 30 percent of their credit limit, they could be prone to dips in their credit score. "December and the holiday season can be a period of time when consumers are not as mindful of the credit impact of some of their buying decisions," said Shon Dellinger, vice president of told the paper. Approximately 1.2 million consumers in the top credit tier of 800 to 850 have experienced a credit drop since the start of 2008, according to the Fair Isaac Corporation, which releases FICO scores. That group can still obtain the best credit - however, 2.2 million people saw their FICO scores fall below 600 in the same time period.