How to Read a Credit Report

A credit report is filled with information about your credit obligations and payment that you may owe that report to the credit reporting agencies. Your credit report contains records of your most of your credit accounts including mortgages, credit cards, student loans, installment loans and any other accounts that report. It also contains plus public records, collection accounts, your employment history, and even current and previous addresses.

There are many companies and businesses check your credit report. Places that check your credit include banks, mortgage lenders, credit card issuers, employers, landlords, and utility companies. These are all companies and businesses that check your credit report.

The first section of a credit report contains your personal information, including your name, Social Security number, date of birth, current address and previous addresses. It also contains information on your current and previous employers. Another important part of the personal information section of your credit report is the public records section. This section lists any public record information about you from local, state and federal courts, including foreclosures, liens, suits, judgments, bankruptcy filings, child support, and collections.

The main section and body of your credit report details most of your credit account and payment history's. It includes Information about mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, store cards, student loans and installment loans. Each account includes the name of the company, date the account was opened, credit limit or loan amount, account balance, monthly payment, the most recent payment and the last payment status. The payment status will include the unpaid balance, payment amount and due date. If the account is past due it will have the number of days past due and the current account status (open or closed). This section detailing your credit accounts is very important to look at closely to make sure the information is correct.

The main body of your credit report may contain a lot of accounts in this section. This section will contain credit accounts that you opened a long time ago and paid in full. It also may contain old active accounts with positive payment histories. These accounts actually help boost your credit score so leave those older accounts alone as they help your credit score.

The personal data section also provides a section for consumer statements and alerts. Once you have reviewed your credit report and if you see inaccurate information or If you have been a victim of identity theft you might want to add a comment to this section detailing the date you learned about the theft and the accounts affected. This section where you can comment on any accurate but negative information listed on your credit report. You can also make comment on a credit account because of a payment dispute with a creditor you can give your side of the dispute here.

The last section of your credit report lists inquiries made to your credit history in the past two years. If a company has looked at your credit the inquiry will be listed here. Your credit report may contain inquiries from creditors that you have accounts with such as banks and credit card companies they won't affect your score. Potential employers and landlords may check your credit report as well.

You will also want to take a close look at the current and previous addresses and employers as well as the list of places you lived if something is not correct it could be that another consumer's credit report has been mixed with yours. Or even worse the incorrect information could be an indication that an identity thief has been applying for credit in your name.

There are companies that access consumer credit files on a regular basis include banks and credit card companies like to monitor customers' credit files. The inquiries that impact your credit score are the ones you initiate when you apply for a mortgage loan, auto loans, credit cards or other form of credit. When you fill out an application for credit you give the creditor permission to pull your credit report. Inquiries affect about five to ten percent of your overall credit score.

The three credit reporting agencies obtain the credit data in its credit reports independently of each other. Some creditors do not report to all three credit reporting agencies. This is the main reason why credit reports and files from the three credit bureaus are different. It's important that you understand everything your credit report.

The negative credit information on your credit report will stay on your credit file for seven years or longer. It's important that all public information is accurate. Bankruptcies and tax liens can stay on your credit report for as long as ten years.