Your credit report contains a wealth of personal and financial information that lenders use to make decisions on credit card, mortgage, auto loan and other types of financial products. It also includes public records such as bankruptcies, legal judgments and tax liens.
Aside from your personal details (including names, dates of birth and addresses), credit reports include account information from lenders that have submitted it to the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.
Information on Your Credit History
The information on your credit report summarizes how you have managed debt in the past. It also helps lenders understand your riskiness and determine whether they can extend you credit. This information is collected and updated by the three national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Some of the information in your credit report includes:
Names of creditors and lenders, along with a summary of your payment history for each account. Account balances, credit limits and loan amounts. Whether accounts have been paid off, closed, disputed or charged off.
Public records, including bankruptcies, foreclosures and liens. Inquiries made by companies that are evaluating your application for credit, and the names of those who have requested your report. Personal identifying information, such as your current and previous addresses, Social Security number and birth date. You have the right to dispute any incorrect information in your credit report.
Lenders review credit reports for individuals to help them determine a person’s ability to repay loans and assess their level of risk. These reports also include public records such as bankruptcies, evictions, tax liens and judgments.
These entries ding your score and should be checked closely for accuracy. A good rule of thumb is to dispute any inaccurate information on your report that was not reported to you by the credit reporting agency that collected the data.
Remember that incorrect negative information can linger on your credit report for up to seven years. If you do spot errors on your credit report, it is best to check with the credit bureau and the entity that provided the information to correct them directly through their websites or by mail. Also, make sure to only apply for credit you need and use to avoid overextending your finances. The best way to stay on top of your credit is to order a free report every year from the three major consumer reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
A credit inquiry is an entry on your credit report that lists the times when someone has checked your credit. Credit inquiries are either hard or soft, and they can impact your credit score. Typically, lenders or creditors conduct hard credit inquiries when you apply for a loan or credit card and authorize them to check your credit. However, if you see a hard inquiry on your report that you did not authorize, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau. A hard inquiry can also appear on your report when a company checks your credit for nonfinancial reasons, such as when a potential employer does a background check or if you request preapproval to get a new credit card.
Credit inquiries on your credit report can be confusing, especially when you find unauthorized hard inquires. To challenge them, write a letter to the credit bureaus and include copies of your reports with the questionable inquiry highlighted.
The accounts section of a credit report lists current and past financial accounts, including revolving accounts like credit cards and installment loans such as auto loans and mortgages. It also includes the status of those accounts (open, closed or delinquent) and a summary of payment information and balance history for each account.
Creditors and lenders are required to report a variety of account information, such as payment histories and credit inquiries to the three major consumer reporting agencies. The information is then used to create a credit report for each individual consumer.
The account information can include personal details such as the name of the borrower, birth date and social security number. It can also list previous addresses and current and past employers. It also typically includes a summary of any accounts that have been sent to collection agencies. In addition, a separate section summarizes any public records such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens and civil suits.