It's no secret that Americans' paychecks and bank account balances have taken it on the chin during the past two years. With a record number of mortgage defaults and declared bankruptcies, it's a safe bet that more and more of those who once had good – or even average – credit are now living with a bad credit score.
For many, their good credit score and on-time payment status are like a badge of honor. Or at least, they used to be. And while in "the old days" (before the recession) many might not think twice of proclaiming "I have excellent credit" to passersby and family members alike, few would relish sharing news of their personal bankruptcy with the world – including family and the parents at school pickup.