What Is In A Credit Report
Most consumers understand the importance of maintaining good credit. It provides opportunities to secure affordable financing for life’s major purchases, like a home, car, or unexpected expenses. However, knowing the information of what is in a credit report is just as important.
The credit report is a document that holds most of your financial activity throughout the course of your life. The information included in it gives the credit reporting agencies the ability to determine your credit score. Therefore, lenders often use this score when making a decision about your ability to open and maintain a new account. Below details the framework of a credit report and the data that you’ll most likely see when you review it.
The first section of information detailed within your credit report includes your past and current personal information. Identifying data, such as your social security number (last four digits), date of birth, and your current and previous addresses. In addition, the personal information section may also include your current employer information and previous jobs you’ve held.
The personal information section of the report offers a glimpse into your identifying history, but some information is not included. Items omitted include salary information, bank accounts and balances, interest rates on current accounts, and any credit counseling history. Also not included are child support payments (as long as they are current), marital status, race, religion or sex.
Credit Reporting Agencies
There are three main credit reporting agencies that gather your financial history data: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These credit reporting agencies populate the data listed in your credit report from the information reported by your creditors. Lenders access your credit report through the big three, although some utilize just one agency to review your credit details. Each agency has the same basic information, but what is in a credit report depends on what creditors provide.
Summary of Account Types
Right below the personal information section is a summary section which includes a brief overview of your credit history. This shows a breakdown of account types, open and closed accounts, revolving or installment accounts, outstanding balances and available credit. In addition, all outstanding debts are totaled and reported in the monthly payments summary section.
One of the most important aspects of a credit report is the account history section. This section makes up the lion’s share of information and your credit score is calculated based on these details. This section includes four main types, mortgage accounts, installments accounts (loans), revolving accounts (credit cards and lines of credit). Account history also includes accounts with very little listed as these accounts require payment in full each month.
The account history section includes in-depth details under each specific account and is as follows:
- Creditor name and account number
- Account owner including any joint owners
- Term of the debt and payment frequency
- Type of account and credit limit
- Highest credit amount utilized for that account
- Outstanding balance
- Past due amount
- Scheduled and actual payment amounts
- Payment history (typically listed in a chart or calendar format)
- Number of months reported on an account (months reviewed)
- Account opened and date last reported
- Last account activity and date of last payment
- Date of first and subsequent delinquencies
- Charge-off amount
- Date closed
Listed at the end of the account history section, includes negative account information or accounts sent to a collection agency. It is important to review each of the items listed in this section to ensure the details are accurate. This section is a good listing to refer to when understanding what is in a credit report.
This section of the report public records includes information about the status of settled or outstanding debts. This section also includes bankruptcy, (Chapter 7 or 13), together with details about the bankruptcy and the discharge date. Additionally, tax liens – when you owe back taxes and the IRS has started collections – appear in this section as well. Also included are Civil judgments or debts you owe through the court related to a lawsuit. No other public records appear in your credit report.
Types of Inquiries
Beyond specific account data and personal information, a credit report will also provide an overview of recent credit inquiries. When a creditor requests to view your credit, the credit reporting agencies log it as a new inquiry. Therefore, these inquiries can be classified as either a hard or soft request.
Any request made by a creditor for a new account or limit increase shows up as a hard inquiry. These are requests for which you have provided your consent. Too many requests in a short period of time may damage or lower your credit score.
A soft inquiry represents a request to view credit not requested for the purpose of opening an account. These could include reviews of your credit from a current creditor, employment inquiries or checking your own credit. These requests do not typically affect your credit score.
Pre-screened offers known as promotional inquiries can also appear on your report. Promotional inquiries typically mailed or electronically sent to you come in the form as an unsolicited offer. If you do not accept a pre-screened offer, a promotional inquiry remains as a soft inquiry on your credit report. If you accept the offer, the creditor will make a formal hard inquiry to review your credit in more detail.
Other Financial Details
Individuals with past bad credit behavior may have additional information reported to the credit agencies. Supplemental information showing up on your credit report include missteps like bouncing checks or frequently over drafting your account. Other activity reported include the utilization of an overdraft protection account that acts as a revolving line of credit. Also, bad check writing behavior could affect your ability to get a new bank account. This information is gathered by the ChexSystem, a debit reporting agency which could show up in your credit history.
Your credit report holds the key to achieve your financial freedom and allow you to reach your financial dreams. It is important to understand what is in a credit report, fully aware of how creditors view your financial behavior.
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