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What’s in My Credit Report?

We all know how a credit score is calculated… sort of (see our previous post to find out: How is a Credit Score Calculated?)  But there’s still the matter of the actual credit report.  What’s that all about?  You do have a right to know.  That’s what the Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees.  Let’s talk about what information they’ve got on you.

Your credit score and credit report are two different things.  The report is a history of everything you’ve done and are currently doing with your credit.  The score is a numerical representation of that information.  A score ranges from 300 – 850, 850 being the best (lowest risk for potential lenders).

Here’s what you’ll find in your credit report:

Credit Information:

  • Student loans
  • Car loans
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Mortgages, home equity loans
  • Secured credit cards or loans

Other Information:

  • Name and aliases
  • Social security number
  • Current and past addresses
  • Date of birth
  • Employment history
  • Collection accounts
  • Inquiries
  • Creditor contact information
  • Consumer statement
  • Public records
  • Payment history
  • Accounts summary

Information NOT in your credit report:

  • On-time phone/utility bills
  • Debit card use
  • Payments with cash
  • Written checks
  • Checks cashed
  • Remittances

Your credit report and score can affect your ability to obtain credit, and the terms/rates of that credit.  It can also affect your ability to get a job and rent an apartment.

Everyone is entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, Trans Union).  That’s three separate reports each year that you can obtain for free.  You can get them all at once if you want, or you can stagger them throughout the year (one report every 4 months) to get more frequent snapshots of your credit report.  Simply go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com to request them.

These requests are considered “soft inquiries” as opposed to a “hard inquiries”.  A hard inquiry occurs when you’re applying for credit, and the lender pulls your report to determine whether or not you’re a good risk.  This will affect your score, potentially dropping it a few points.  Soft inquiries will not have this affect. These are merely informational inquiries.

Check your reports every year for accuracy, as there may be incorrect information that you can dispute.  To do so, contact any of the agencies that have errors on your report.  They must investigate any disputes within 30 days.

ABOUT AUTHOR / Andi

Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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