- The more you know about your credit history before making a big decision, like buying a house or a car, the more prepared you will be to take on the financial obligations that may happen as a result.
- Checking your credit reports does not impact your credit scores, but it may help establish the right kinds of behaviors early on, and may help spot signs of identity theft.
What you need to know
Ever wondered what information goes into your credit report, and what to look for as you’re reviewing it? A credit report is a summary of your unique financial history. The three nationwide credit bureaus collect and maintain a history of your credit activity as reported by the lenders and creditors you have accounts with. Your credit report includes important information about you, including:
- Personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, aliases or former names, current and former addresses, and sometimes your current and former employers;
- Account information, including payment history, account balances and limits, and dates the accounts were opened or closed. This includes credit accounts that may be in your name such as credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and vehicle loans;
- Bankruptcies and accounts in collections; and
- Inquiries, which lists the lenders and other companies that have accessed your credit report.
As you look at your credit report, keep the following in mind:
- In the personal information section of your credit report, is your name listed accurately, and your address up to date?
- In the account information portion of your credit report, are the accounts listed complete and accurate?
- If any of the information is inaccurate or incomplete, it is important to contact the lender or creditor that issued the account, or the nationwide credit bureau that issued the credit report.
Your credit reports tell a detailed story about you, including information about your financial accounts, and your payment history. Those who can access this information, including third parties with “permissible purpose”, may accept or deny your applications for credit based in part on the information in your credit reports, as well as their own lending criteria.
The more you know about your financial accounts and credit history before making a big decision like buying a house or a car, the more prepared you will be to take on the financial obligations that may happen as a result.
Another way you can receive a copy of your free credit report from the three major credit bureaus is by meeting one of the following requirements as outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If you meet one of these requirements, you are entitled to one additional free copy of your credit report during any 12-month period:
- You're unemployed and intend to apply for employment within 60 days
- You're receiving public welfare assistance
- You believe your credit report contains inaccurate information due to fraud
You are also entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you meet these requirements:
- You've been denied credit or insurance within the past 60 days
- You've placed a fraud alert on your credit reports
If you live in certain states, you may be eligible for additional free credit reports.
Shopping for a loan involves many steps and, potentially, multiple credit checks. Understand how hard inquiries are generated on your credit report.
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Find out what information stays on a credit report and for how long.