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What is a Credit Report?
Equifax is one of the leading credit reporting agencies in the United States — the other two major credit bureaus are Experian and TransUnion. Each credit agency maintains information about your credit history.
Lenders, employers, landlords, and other service providers buy your credit information in the form of a credit report to help them decide whether to approve your application for a loan, credit card, job, or housing, or to offer you a product or service at a particular rate.
While all consumers are eligible for one annual free credit report, it's important that you review your credit information regularly to check its accuracy as credit files change constantly. Equifax credit monitoring products can help monitor and protect your credit by alerting you of any changes to your credit report.
What Information is Included in Your Credit Report?
Personal information. Compiled from credit applications you've filled out, this information normally includes your name, current and recent addresses, Social Security number, date of birth, and current and previous employers.
Credit history. The bulk of your credit report consists of details about credit accounts that were opened in your name or that list you as an authorized user (such as a spouse's credit card). Account details, which are supplied by creditors with which you have an account, include the date the account was opened, the credit limit or amount of the loan, the payment terms, the balance, and a history that shows whether or not you've paid the account on time. Closed or inactive accounts, depending on the manner in which they were paid, stay on your report for 7 to 11 years from the date of their last activity.
Credit Report Inquiries. Credit reporting agencies record an inquiry whenever your credit report is shown to another party, such as a lender, service provider, landlord, or insurer. Inquiries remain on your credit report for up to two years.
Public records. Matters of public record obtained from government sources such as courts of law — including liens, bankruptcies, and overdue child support — may appear on your credit report. Most public record information stays on your credit report for 7 years.
What is Not Included in Your Credit Report?
A credit report does not include information about your checking or savings accounts, bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old, charged-off or debts placed for collection that are more than seven years old, gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, medical history, or criminal records. Also, your credit score is generated by information on your credit report, but is not part of the report itself.
What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a rating used by a lender to help determine whether or not you qualify for a particular credit card, loan, or service. The credit reporting agencies apply an in-depth mathematical model (called an “algorithm”) to the information in your credit file to yield your credit score. Most credit scores estimate the risk a company incurs by lending you money or providing you with a service — specifically, the likelihood that you'll fail to make payments in the next two to three years. The higher the score, the less risk you represent to the lender. Put simply, the higher your credit score, the better.
While consumers can receive a credit report once a year through www.annualcreditreport.com, a free credit score is not included. The free credit report only tells half of your credit story … knowing your credit score can help to monitor the overall health of your credit.
Top 7 Factors that Affect Your Credit Score
Many different mathematical formulas are used to calculate credit scores and each credit reporting agency provides different credit scoring models. For example, Equifax is the exclusive provider of the FICO Score, which is used by most lenders. While most credit scoring models are based on the following factors, each scoring model weights factors differently:
- Payment history. This, along with public records, generally accounts for approximately 35% of your credit score. A record of late payments on your current and past credit accounts will typically lower your score. Being consistent about paying on time can, over time, have a positive impact on your credit score.
- Public records. Matters of public record such as bankruptcies, judgments, and collection items may lower your credit score. Be aware of these, even if you can't always avoid them.
- Length of credit history. In general, a longer credit history is better and can sometimes have a positive impact on your score. Credit history typically accounts for around 15% of your credit score.
- New accounts. Opening multiple new accounts in a short period of time may negatively impact your score.
- Inquiries. Whenever someone else gets your credit report — a lender, landlord, or insurer, for example — an inquiry is recorded on your credit report. A large number of recent inquiries may negatively impact your score. Your new credit accounts and inquiries generally make up about 10% of your score.
- Accounts in use. The presence of too many open accounts can have a negative impact on your score, whether you're using the accounts or not. This activity usually makes up approximately 10% of your score.