March 18, 2018
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Credit Reports - Taking the Mystery Out of Credit Reports

You may be familiar with commercials urging consumers to get a free copy of their credit reports. It is definitely a good thing to do in order to get a look at your finances through the eyes of the credit bureaus and others who may be conducting a credit check. In 2003, Congress made it possible for consumers to request a copy of their credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer report agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you're wondering what to look for, here is some information to help you decipher it.

How Do I Read My Credit Report?

Once you've received your credit report, the next step is to review the information and make sure it's accurate. It is a history of your debts and how they're paid. Each of the three bureaus has their own way of arranging the information, but they do share some basic categories:

1. Personal Information- name, address, Social Security Number, date of birth, and current employment.

2. Credit Account Information- a list of all your credit accounts opened in the last seven to ten years. Not only are current accounts included, but closed accounts as well. Specifically, you'll see:

· Account number
· Name of creditor
· Current balance
· Date account was opened
· Timeliness of payments
· Late payments
· Credit limit
· Loan amount

3. Inquiries- list all companies and individuals who have pulled your credit report. There are two types:

· Soft inquiries are indicated when a company looks at your report for pre-approvals, when you request your credit report, and when your existing creditors monitor your account. Soft inquiries do not have any influence on whether credit is denied.
· Hard inquiries are indicated when you apply for credit, mortgages, and loans. Lenders, insurers, or landlords see all the hard inquiries to evaluate your creditworthiness.

4. Public Records- this section contains all public records. The length they stay on your report varies:

· Tax liens
· Bankruptcy
· Foreclosures
· Unpaid court judgments
· Criminal convictions

There also may be sections for accounts in good standing and accounts past due.

Knowing what is on your credit report can only benefit you and help you make wiser decisions when it comes to spending, credit, and debt.



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