A credit report is essentially a summary of your credit accounts and how you’ve handled each one. It reflects the payment history of all accounts you currently hold as well as the payment history of past accounts. It also contains information that your creditors and lenders have reported to the credit bureaus. That’s just a brief preview of what’s inside. Here’s a more detailed look at what you’ll find when you review your credit report.
All financial institutions that extend you credit, report your transactions to the three major credit agencies – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The credit bureaus gather the data they receive from various sources to compile your credit report. The reports generated by each of these agencies may vary slightly from one another. However, they all arrange the information into four basic categories: identity, credit account information, public records, and recent inquiries.
This section contains your basic personal information. It includes your name, date of birth, Social Security number, current and previous addresses, and employment details. This section is purely for identification purposes. It is not used to calculate credit scores or to make any lending decisions.
This section contains information provided by your lenders and creditors. It includes information about the types of accounts you have such as credit cards, student loans, mortgages, or vehicle loans. It also includes details about when each account opened, your credit limit or loan amount, payment history, and account balances.
The most important information in this section is your payment history. All timely and past-due payments show up here along with how much you owed and how late the payment was. If any of your loans have a cosigner, that information will be featured in this section.
This category includes information collected from transactions recorded by various local, state, and federal government agencies. All property purchases, foreclosures, liens, divorces, and court judgments show up here. Also listed are all past-due accounts that have been turned over to a collection agency.
Bankruptcies and criminal convictions also feature in the category of the public record. Each of these will stay on your report for different periods of time. A completed Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for 7 years. A completed Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay for 10 years and criminal convictions may stay on your report indefinitely.
In this section, you’ll find a list of anyone who requested a copy of your credit report during the past two years. This usually includes credit card companies, lenders, prospective employers, and prospective landlords.
The inquiries are further categorized as an involuntary or soft inquiry and voluntary or hard inquiry. An involuntary inquiry is one that’s created when a creditor pre-approves you for a credit card. Actions such as applying for a loan or credit card triggers a voluntary inquiry. Voluntary inquiries impact your credit score negatively and will stay on your report for up to two years.
It’s not unusual for credit reports to have inaccurate or incomplete information. This can impact your credit score. This is why it’s important to check your credit report regularly. If you spot any errors, dispute them with the credit agency and ensure everything is correct.
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