What is a Credit Report?
Your Credit Report is a combination of your personal information, such as name, address, marital status, SS ID number, current and previous home addresses and number of dependents and other financial and public records.
It doesn’t include information that is not used for financial purposes such as race, religion and political affiliation.
It will include public record info such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens, judgements and lawsuits.
Not included are debts that are not from a contract or agreement to pay, like tickets and fines by the government.
Mortgages, loans, credit debt is reported and includes balance, amount due and current status of the account plus accounts that are in collection and debts that have been settled.
Medical debts that have been in collections for over 6 months are included in the credit report.
Most public record and any negative information will show on the credit report for a minimum of 7 years.
Your family will have more than one credit report. Your spouse will have a separate one. If your child was assigned a Social Security Identification Number and has a college fund, savings account or other financial account, she/he probably have his/her own credit report as well.
Your credit score is not included as a part of your credit report.
Why is the credit report so important?
The credit report and the mathematically derived credit score are used whenever you apply for a personal loan, home mortgage, rental lease, car loan, credit card, or increasingly for pre-employment applications.
The credit report and the credit score will be used to determine the terms, such as interest rate and duration of any loan. A poor credit report can cost you a great deal of money over the life of any long term loan such as a mortgage or even a car loan. It can also cause you to be turned down for that apartment lease or home mortgage you wanted.
Who are the Credit Bureaus that publish my Credit Reports?
There are 3 credit bureaus in the U.S. that issue credit reports. They are:
1. EQUIFAX (800) 685-1111 www.equifax.com
2. EXPERIAN (888) 397-3742 www.experian.com
3. TRANSUNION (800) 680-7289 www.transunion.com
Why are my 3 reports different?
Not all lenders or employers or Etc. report to all three credit bureaus, so you will have 3 different credit reports on file at any one time. Each will differ somewhat due to details reported to them.
Where can I get my free annual Credit Reports?
The federal government has mandated that consumers can get a free credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus once every year. Those reports are available through www.AnnualCreditReport.com
The reports can be requested individually and you can space the 3 reports out by requesting one in January, one in May and one in September rather than all at one time.
My credit score was not included with the reports.
At this time, the credit scores are not considered a part of the credit report. Each of the credit bureaus use their own algorithm (Math Formula) to calculate the score from the data in their database. So, just like the credit reports having difference between them, there will be differences in the credit scores also.
What if I find the information is not correct in the credit reports?
You need to send a dispute request to each of the 3 credit bureaus that holds the incorrect info. Many times you are able to accomplish that online at the links provided above.
Can I just buy my credit score since it doesn’t come with the report?
You can purchase your credit score from each of the 3 credit bureaus. Fees are posted on the websites.
There is a 4th credit score available called the FICO score. It is used extensively by the financial institutions and can be purchased from the myFICO website.
The credit score without a credit report is incomplete for planning your immediate and long term financial future.
The next posts will delve into credit monitoring with highlights on some of the scams that abound.