- Credit Report
- A credit report contains information about your credit and payment history. It shows how often you make payments on time, how much you’ve borrowed, and how much you currently owe. Lenders use this report to decide whether to give you a loan, and what your interest rate will be.
What is a Credit Report?
A credit report is a record of your credit use and repayment history. It contains information including, but not limited to, how much credit you were approved for, how much you used, whether you paid your bill paid on time and whether you have any outstanding collections notices against you. Generally, the information in a credit report dates back seven years from the date that the report was requested.(1)
The information on a person’s credit report is used to determine their credit score. A credit score is a numerical grade that potential lenders, landlords and employers can use to determine whether you have a history of responsible credit use and repayment.
What’s in a Credit Report?
Credit Reports contain the following information:
- Identifying Information such as your name, current address, date of birth, Social Security Number and place of current employment.
- Credit Accounts including what type of credit you have and/or had, your payment history, approved credit limits, amount of credit used, the date the accounts were opened and the current balances.
- Collections and Public Records. Whenever a person files for bankruptcy, is foreclosed upon, has a lien placed against their property or has their wages garnished, this information is a matter of public record and is included in your credit report. Collections agencies also report on any outstanding debts that they are trying to recoup from you.
- Credit Inquiries, which note every time that either you or someone else has accessed a copy of your credit report. Requests that come from you directly are noted as “voluntary” inquiries. Requests that come from lenders, employers, landlords etc. are noted as “involuntary” inquiries. Both the identity of the requester and the total number of inquiries are recorded. (2)
Who Generates Credit Reports?
Credit reports are compiled and reviewed by the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), American citizens are entitled to request one copy of their credit report per year from each bureau, free of charge. To obtain a copy of your credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.(3)
Your credit report (and credit score) might vary depending on which bureau has produced it. Additionally, not all the information in a credit report is necessarily correct. Errors and inaccuracies can and do occur and they can negatively impact your ability to obtain credit. If you notice errors in your credit report you should, in writing, inform the credit bureau that’s reporting them. Under law, credit bureaus are required to investigate them in a timely manner—usually within 30 days. For more information, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s step-by-step instructions for disputing credit reporting information.
- “Credit Report” Investopedia. Accessed February 15, 2016. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/creditreport.asp
- “What’s in My Credit Report?” myFICO.com. Credit Basics. Accessed February 15, 2016. https://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/in-your-credit-report.aspx
- “Free Credit Reports.” Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information. Accessed February 15, 2016. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports