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- Regularly checking your credit reports is a good way to ensure information is complete and accurate
- Follow this checklist to know what to look for on your Equifax credit report
- If you see something inaccurate or incomplete, contact your lender
- You can also file a free dispute with the three nationwide credit bureaus
There’s no time like the present to review your credit reports. Checking your credit reports regularly can help you understand what information potential lenders and creditors see when you apply for credit, as well as ensure all of your information is complete and accurate.
You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain them. Each credit bureau issues separate credit reports. Some of your account information may be the same in all three credit reports, but some may not. That’s because not all lenders and creditors report to all three credit bureaus. Some may report to only two, one or none at all.
Credit Reports Checklist
Got a copy of your credit report? Let’s take a look. Your Equifax credit report contains five types of information, and similar information can be found on credit reports from other credit bureaus. Here’s what to double-check:
Personal or identifying information. This section of your credit report includes your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. It may also include previous addresses and your maiden or other names you have used.
This information isn’t used to calculate credit scores, but it’s worth taking a minute to make sure everything looks correct and there is no unfamiliar information.
Credit accounts. This section includes your current and past accounts as reported by your lenders and creditors. Along with open accounts, it may include accounts that you or the lender have closed, or accounts such as student loans or auto loans that have been paid off. It should also include information on the type of account, the date it was opened, your credit limit or loan amount, any current balance on the account and your payment history.
Read this section carefully to make sure any information provided is accurate and that there are no unfamiliar accounts listed. Also check to ensure that any old information that may be considered “negative” has been removed from your report if the appropriate amount of time has passed. Learn more about how long information remains on your Equifax credit report.
Inquiry information. This section includes information about companies that have reviewed your credit report. There are two types of inquiries: hard and soft.
Soft inquiries do not impact credit scores. As an example, they result from you checking your own credit report, from companies extending you pre-approved credit card offers, or from current creditors reviewing your credit periodically (which is known as “account review”).
Hard inquiries occur when a potential lender or creditor reviews your credit report because you have applied for credit or service, such as a new loan, credit card, or cell phone. Hard inquiries remain on your Equifax credit report for up to two years and may impact credit scores. Learn more about hard inquiries.
When reviewing inquiries, make sure hard inquiries are from companies you’ve applied for credit or services with and none are unfamiliar. Lenders and creditors sometimes use third parties to pull credit reports, so the inquiry company name might not be immediately familiar to you and may not be the same as the name of the lender. If you see a name that isn't familiar, but you have recently applied for credit, you can check with the lender to see if they used a third party to pull your credit report.
Bankruptcy public records. Bankruptcies and related details about them, such as the filing date and the chapter (type of bankruptcy), may also be shown on your credit report. Review this section and make sure the information is accurate.
Collections accounts. This section may include past-due accounts that have been turned over to a collection agency. Examples of these may be accounts with doctors, hospitals, banks, retail stores, cable companies or mobile phone providers. As with previous sections, review these for accuracy.
What do you do if you see something you think is inaccurate or incomplete? Contact the company reporting the information. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can also file a dispute with the credit bureau which furnished the report. Learn more about the dispute process here.
If you find information on your credit report you think may be the result of fraud, learn more about steps you can take.
Remember that checking your own credit report doesn't impact credit scores.
And speaking of credit scores, most credit reports don’t contain them, although credit scores are calculated using information from your credit reports. Learn more about ways to check credit scores.