What Is in a Credit Report?

By Nacie Carson

  • Overview

    A credit report is a document maintained by the three major credit bureaus on each individual that keeps a record of payment histories, open lines of credit, and other financial aspects. A variety of lenders, ranging from creditors to apartment communities, have access to credit reports and use the information contained to approve or deny applicants. Review what information is maintained in a credit report and where you can check yours.
  • Basic Information

    Credit reports contain basic identifying information, including name, residential address, social security number and birth date. If you have not lived at your current address for at least two years, then a notation on your previous address is included as well. It does not include personal information regarding ethnicity, religion, medical history or sexual orientation.
  • Credit History

    The main material found in a credit report is a credit line history. All types of credit are listed, including mortgages, credit cards, store credit cards, car loans, and other types of loans. Information regarding when the account was opened, if it is still open, and if it is in good standing, are included along with each credit entry. Many reports will also include the current balance of the loan, monthly payment required, and the credit limit.

  • Account Standing

    Accounts that are not in good standing will have special notations next to them indicating the nature of the incident. Such incidents can include missed or late payments, repossessed goods, or using more credit than was issued. These types of problems reflect badly on you and count against you in the calculation of your credit history. They also decrease your FICO score, a number between 300 and 850 that offers potential lenders a snapshot of the credit history.
  • Court Information

    Any financial court issues experienced will also appear on a credit report, including bankruptcy, liens, court ordered payments, and divorce. However, criminal court charges are not part of credit reports.
  • Where to Check Credit Reports

    To check a personal credit report, you may contact one of the three major credit bureaus and purchase it. The three major bureaus include Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. All three have websites that offer instant access to a detailed report analysis, financial tools, and FICO score. They also all offer credit monitoring services that alert you to any drastic drops in report or suspicious activity that could be indicative of identity theft. The federal government mandates individuals have access to their credit history once a year without charge, however the free report does not include the FICO score.

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