What is a credit report?
A credit report is a record of how you have paid your bills, where you live, and whether you've been sued or filed for bankruptcy. A credit report also shows any monthly debt you might have, your loan repayment history, for example, if you have made payments on time, or if you have not paid back some loans at all. You credit card balances and credit limit.
Credit reports are compiled by the 3 credit-reporting agencies. The typical credit report includes four sections of information:
What is included in a Credit Report?
1. Identifying information: This section of the report contains information about yourself. Your full name along with other variations that have been used, current and previous addresses, telephone number, Social Security number, date of birth, and current and previous employers. Usually the information in this section of your credit report comes from your credit applications or when you report them directly to the Credit Bureau.
2. Credit Accounts: Specific details about your credit cards, student loans, car loans and other loans. This information includes account status, contact information, credit limits or loan amounts, recent payments, and the names of anyone else responsible for paying the account, such as a spouse or a co-signer.
3. Payment information: Your monthly payments if any, on all accounts. This section of your credit report also shows your payment history during the past several years. Information in this section of your credit report comes from companies you do business with.
4. Public record information: This section contains information about you that are public record (on file at a court, or county records). Information like, bankruptcy records, foreclosures, tax liens for unpaid taxes, monetary court judgments (such as lawsuits), and, in some states, overdue child support. This information comes from public records.
5. Debts: Debts owed on all accounts including mortgages, credit cards, student loans and auto loans
6. Inquiries: This section, contains the names of those who obtained a copy of your credit report and how often you have applied for credit in the past two years. In this section of your credit report, you may also see the names of companies that have reviewed your report for "pre-approved" credit offers. You shouldn't worry about that because those names are not given to creditors who request a copy of your report. Creditors will only see the inquiries you initiate when you apply for a new credit (Hard inquiries).
7. Negative information: This section shows your late payments, skipped payments, settled accounts, charge offs, accounts turned over to a collection agency, repossessions and other derogatory items. Information in this section of your credit report comes from companies you do business with.
Who can see your credit report?
Credit Bureaus and other Consumer reporting companies can provide your consumer reports and scores to an array of businesses, including:
Debt buyers and collectors
Lenders, including those that offer credit cards, home loans, payday loans, auto loans or leasing, and student loans
Employers, volunteer organizations, and government agencies to determine eligibility for government assistance
Landlords and residential real estate management companies
Banks, credit unions, payment processors, and retail stores that accept personal checks
Companies that market and sell products and services specifically to lower-income consumers and subprime credit applicants, such as short-term lending and rent-to-own businesses
Communications and utility companies
Retail stores for product return fraud and abuse screening; as well as retail stores that offer financing, such as appliance and rent-to-own businesses
Gaming casinos that extend credit to consumers and/or accept personal checks
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