What is a credit report? When you were a kid in school, you completed homework assignments, worked on special projects, took tests and engaged in a number of activities which were scored and by which you were measured. All of your work was compiled into what was called portfolio and, yes, this collection of what you did for the year was used to promote or demote you.
What was also true was that this portfolio followed you from grade to grade. Your new teachers were handed the portfolio and they were able to see where exactly you were and how to move you to the next level.
Your credit report is very similar.
What Is A Credit Report?
So what is a credit report? As adults, we still have a collection of what we did that follows us. It’s called our credit report. We also get a score and this score determines what services or goods we can have or purchase. In many cases, we either do or don’t not have access to much because of what is reflected in our “portfolio”, i.e. our credit report.
Have you ever made a large purchase? Do you pay your bills on time? Ever apply for a loan? How many credit cards do you have? The answers to all these questions mean that you have a credit history. Like that kid in school, it is a collection of what you have done. When companies collect this information, it goes into a “portfolio” – your credit report.
So when you want to make a large purchase, you can be sure that there your potential creditor will conduct a credit history check on you.
A credit report is a confidential document that gives an overview of your credit history. Your credit report contains basic information like your name, address and social security number. It also provides detailed information about how many credit cards you have, if you have any loans out, are you paying your bills in a timely fashion and how many late payments you have made, any collection information and any judgments against you.
Where Does The Information On Your Credit Report Come From?
Credit reports are maintained by the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Transunion and Experian. When you conduct business with any company, they send your debt information to the credit bureaus at which point your information is updated. Collection agencies as well as courts also supply the three bureaus with information about you.
In many cases, businesses may not notify the credit bureau about your standing until or unless you become delinquent in your monthly payments. For example, your cell phone bill may be a month late, however, this information wouldn’t be reported unless it becomes 5 or more months late. At that point, it will be reported after your cell phone account goes into collections.
A List Of What Can Be Found On Your Credit Report
Your credit report has lots of other information too.
- A list of businesses in which you have applied for credit. Ever gotten those pre-approved letters for credit cards or loans in the mail? You can be certain that when you apply, that business will check your credit history and it will be noted on your credit report as an inquiry.
- Your current as well as previous addresses will be listed on your report. This is a result of you having gotten mail at numerous addresses. If there is an address where you have never lived listed, it could be a red flag that needs to be checked out.
- Employment information may be recorded just as a means to verify information you provided to a lender, creditor or a business.
- Accounts that are considered revolving will appear. Revolving means that you have the ability to borrow from the company more than once.
- Loans that you have requiring a monthly payment until paid off will be reflected on your report.
- Open and closed accounts. Closed accounts that are both negative and past 7 years old should not be reflected. If you had an account that was in good standing but is now closed, it will remain on your report for up to 10 years.
- A detailed history of your payments. This will include everything except those old, negative accounts beyond 7 years.
- Collection accounts that show, if any of your accounts are in collections. Unpaid debts are typically sent to collections where you are then aggressively pursued to make the payment.
- Public records such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, repossessions, and tax liens.
It’s important to note that there are actually two versions of your credit report. One version is the one that reflects inquiries from anyone who viewed your credit. The second version is the one lenders see – the inquiries that were made when you applied for something.
How Can You Get A Copy Of Your Credit Report?
You can get a free copy of your credit report by requesting it. You are entitled to get one from each of the three bureaus every 12 months without having to provide any credit card information.
It is highly recommended that you take advantage of this so you can check the accounts listed. You need to be certain that the information on the report is accurate and not the result of identity theft or any other type of fraud.
If you find anything that you’re not aware of, you have the right to dispute it.
Common Credit Report Terms To Know
account in good standing – the current state of the account
charge off – when an account is regarded as a bad debt or loss and is uncollectible.
delinquent – when accounts are placed in categories based upon their time past due. These are 30, 60, 90 and 120 days past due.
derogatory – serious delinquency or late payments.
dispute – when a consumer challenges what’s on the credit report as inaccurate
disclosure – providing the consumer with his/her credit history as required by Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
last reported – the last date information was reported about the account by the creditor
first reported – the first date the status of the account was reported by the account holder
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – Federal legislation prohibiting abusive and unfair debt collection practices.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – Federal legislation governing the actions of credit reporting agencies.
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