Credit Reports

Your credit report contains the history and current status of your credit accounts. It details your creditworthiness based on how you have paid credit accounts in the past. It is designed to predict your capacity and likelihood for repaying current and new accounts.

Items in your Credit Report

Your credit report lists every detail reported by your creditors. It includes the following information:

  • Residential addresses

  • Employers

  • Marital status

  • Social security number and date of birth

  • Credit checks (inquiries)

  • Payment history for most open and closed lines of credit

  • Collection accounts, judgments, liens, foreclosures, repossessions, bankruptcy

  • Consumer credit score

  • Many smaller accounts such as delinquent utility bills and unpaid parking tickets are increasingly being reported.

Items Not in your Credit Report

Any account not reported by the creditor will not appear on your credit report. This frequently occurs with smaller creditors or credit union accounts. Some creditors report to only one or two of the three major credit bureaus.

Also absent from your credit report is your income. It has no bearing on your credit score.

Obtaining your Credit Report

Each of the three main credit bureaus markets a consumer credit report with and without a credit score. These reports contain all of the information about you that your lenders see when they pull your report. They market these at a cost of around $15 each with a version of your credit score included. Also featured are "free" copies of your credit report, which are available only after you agree to subscribe to a credit monitoring service at a substantial fee, some as high as $12.95 per month.

In 2003, Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act. This law requires the credit bureaus to provide you with a free copy of your credit report every year upon your request. There is no score with this report, which is available at an additional fee. There is only one source for you to get your free credit report as mandated by Congress:

Improving your Credit Report

Once you have obtained your credit report, you should examine it to see what items appear on it. Any negative information that appears can reduce your credit score. Therefore, you should dispute these items if they contain inaccurate information.

Additionally, look for accounts that you are behind on. See what actions you can take to bring accounts current.

Finally, you should look for any outstanding debt that may be pulling your score down. Take steps to eliminate debt so that your credit score can begin to improve.

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