What is a Credit Report?
Your credit report is a record of your credit activity and credit history. It includes the names of companies that have extended you credit and/or loans, as well as the credit limits and loan amounts. Your payment history is also part of this record. If you have delinquent accounts, bankruptcies, foreclosures or lawsuits, these can also be found in your credit report.
How does information get on my credit report and is it updated on a regular basis?Every month, lenders submit updates on your credit profile to at least one of the three credit bureaus—TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Since lenders do not necessarily report to all three bureaus, the information on your credit reports may vary. It is also true that lenders report at different times of the month, a factor that might contribute to slight differences in your reports, and therefore your credit scores, at any given time.
Does my credit report contain information that is not related to credit?Yes. Your credit report also serves as an archive for certain personal information, such as public records, your address and the name of your employer.
Why is my credit report necessary? What purpose does it serve?When you apply for credit (a mortgage or car loan, even a new credit card), lenders need a way to gage whether or not you’re a safe bet. Your credit report includes a record of your financial reliability. The information on your credit report is, for the most part, private. Creditors don’t get to sift through every detail of your history. Instead, they’re given a credit score, which is a number that represents your credit average. A score of 750 or higher is the equivalent of getting an A in school.
Do the credit bureaus seek out information about me or do they only receive it?In addition to monthly updates from creditors, the credit bureaus request information from your lenders and service providers on your credit mix. Your credit mix is a picture of the different types of loans you’re repaying.
How long does negative information stay on my credit report?Typically, the negative information on your credit report tends to fall off after seven years, or 10 if you’ve been through bankruptcy. Positive information remains on your report for an average of 10 years from the day its corresponding account is closed. This information applies to loans like mortgages and car loans, the types of agreements that have fixed terms on the number of years for repayment. For revolving accounts, such as credit cards, your positive history will stay on your report for as long as the account is active.
Is there a place where I can explain some of the negative information on my credit report?Absolutely. You have the right to attach a statement to your credit report that explains why, for example, you have a few late payments on your record. This statement will be provided to anyone requesting your report. Life is complicated, and this statement might convince an otherwise apprehensive lender to give you a chance.
Other than the credit bureaus and potential lenders, who else has access to my credit report?The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act restricts who has access to the information on your credit report, and the law also dictates how your report can be used. Here is a list of present and potential creditors that have access to your report:
Access to your report is conditionalExcept in the case of court-ordered credit checks and credit pulls done for marketing purposes, no one can access your credit report without your authorization..