If you’ve ever applied for a credit card or loan, you’ve probably had
your credit report reviewed by the lender. Your credit report has a huge impact on your financial future, so it’s well worth your time to be sure that you understand what your credit report says about you. Even if you’re not interested in obtaining credit, your credit report can impact other areas of your life. Potential employers view your credit report to assess your trustworthiness as an employee. Landlords frequently check the credit reports of their tenants before allowing them to sign or renew their lease.
So whether you knew it or not, your credit report can have a major impact on
your quality of life. With this said I’m sure you can now see that there is a
benefit to obtaining and then verifying that the information on your credit
report is accurate and true.
You can request copies of your report from the three major credit bureaus:
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit
Reporting Act requires each of these national consumer-reporting companies to
provide you with a yearly free copy of your credit report upon your request.
Basically, your credit report is a summary of how you pay your bills; repay
loans; how much credit you have available; what your monthly debts are; and
other types of information that can help a prospective lender decide if you are
a good credit risk.
Your credit report is made up of several sections. The first section contains
personal identifying information such as your name, current and previous
addresses, social security number, telephone number, birth date, and your
current and previous employers.
Your bill paying history with banks, retail stores, finance companies,
mortgage companies, and others who have granted you credit is one of the most
important parts of your credit report. Public records that might indicate your
credit worthiness, such as tax liens, court judgments, and bankruptcies are also
included in the section detailing your credit history.
Your credit report includes a comprehensive listing of all credit granters
and other individuals who have received a copy of your credit report. In
addition, lists of companies that have received your name and address in order
to offer you credit are also included in your credit report.
Most credit bureaus allow both the consumer and the creditor to make
statements if there is a dispute about something on the report. If applicable,
your credit report will include these dispute statements.
Your credit report does not include bank account balances, race, religion,
health, criminal records, driving records, or annual income. You’ve probably
heard about a FICO credit score as well. Credit scores are based on formulas
that use the information in your report, but they’re not considered part of
your credit report.
Problems with your credit report will result in you either being denied
credit or receiving a higher interest rate. Red flags on your credit report
include excessive applications for additional credit, a short credit history, a
high debt ratio, and late payments to previous creditors. In most cases,
negative information will stay on your report for seven years. However,
bankruptcy information stays on your credit report for ten years.
To help improve your credit report, always remember to close unused accounts,
pay your bills on time, never use all of your available credit, and don’t
apply for unnecessary credit.