Credit Report Information 101

Just like getting your report card in school, getting your credit reports will either trigger a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach or a beaming smile wider than a Cheshire cat’s. The content of your credit reports has a huge impact on your financing and employment opportunities so it’s important to review and understand the information.

Who can look at your credit history?  Any of the following parties would have a vested interest in reviewing your credit information:  creditors, insurance companies, employers, landlords, collection agencies, child support enforcement agencies, and utilities.

There are three dominant credit reporting agencies (CRAs) that collect and maintain information on how well you manage your credit accounts: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Because creditors may not report information to all three CRAs, it’s crucial that you examine all three reports to get a complete picture of what has been reported.

Though the format and the specific information in each credit report will vary, all three reports contain the same four basic types of information: 

Identifying information. This section includes personal information such as your name(s), current and past addresses, Social Security Number, date of birth, and the names of current and past employers.
Account information. This section contains specific information on your credit accounts (individual and joint if applicable) such as account number, when the account was opened, type of account (revolving/installment/mortgage/other), if the account has been closed, account’s outstanding balance at time credit report was generated, current payment status (on time/paying as agreed/late), highest balance ever owed, and if the account has been written off or charged off as uncollectable.
Inquiries. This part reveals who has looked at your credit history information and when.
Public records information. This part details information about you that may be in court records. Examples include liens on assets due to unpaid income or property taxes, unpaid court judgments, home foreclosure, car repossession, criminal record, and nonpayment of child support.

The more “negative” entries you have regarding the above information, the lower your credit score. A low score means that you may not qualify for a loan or will be charged a higher interest rate. Employers also look at these reports so a bad credit score could cost you a job offer. It is in your best interest to clean up your credit report.

If you have a bad credit rating, find out if credit repair attorneys are right for you. Read a discussion on whether to hire credit repair lawyers or perform self help credit repair.