Skip to main content
  • Contact Us
  • Locations
  • About Us
  • Careers

What is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a record of how you have paid your debts. It tells lenders:

  • Who you are
  • How much debt you have
  • Whether you have made payments on time
  • Whether there is negative information about you in public records

Credit Reporting Agencies

There are three major credit reporting agencies that maintain your credit report. They are:

  1. Equifax
  2. Experian
  3. TransUnion

Credit reporting agencies do not make credit decisions. Credit reporting agencies simply report the information provided by creditors. This information can affect whether you get your next loan. These agencies:

  • Maintain background data such as your Social Security Number, address (and previous addresses), and employment (and previous employment).
  • Collect information about bankruptcy filings, court-ordered judgments, tax liens, and other public record information from courthouse records.
  • Receive information from creditors, usually monthly, about whether you are making loan and credit card payments on time.
  • Provide a copy of your credit report to lenders or others who have a legitimate business reason to view your report.

The reports from each of the credit agencies look different but generally contain the same basic information. You can expect all credit reports to contain:

  1. Personal Information
    Your identifying information, including:
    • Name
    • Social Security Number (SSN)
    • Current and previous addresses
    • Telephone number
    • Birth date
    • Current and previous employers
    • Spouse’s name, if married
  2. Consumer Statement
    You have a right to submit a 100-word statement explaining any negative information appearing on your report. That statement will appear here.
  3. Historical Account Summary
    For each creditor it will show the maximum amount of credit the creditor agreed to lend to you, how much you currently owe (the outstanding balance), monthly payment amount, timeliness of each payment, and any overdue sums.
  4. List of Inquiries
    These are the creditors and other authorized parties who have requested and received your credit report.
  5. Public Record Information
    A report containing information about you in public records, including:
    • Collection accounts
    • Bankruptcies
    • Evictions
    • Foreclosures
    • Tax liens
    • Civil judgments
    • Delinquent student loan payments
    • Late child support payments

Information Not Included in Credit Reports

Credit reports do not contain:

  • Your checking and savings account balances
  • Your income
  • Your medical history
  • Your business account information
  • Your race, gender, religion, or national origin
  • Your driving record

Credit Report

When you receive your credit report, you should review it carefully for errors. If not caught and corrected, errors on your credit report may lower your score and cause you to be denied for credit. That is why it is so important to order and review a copy of your credit report before you apply for credit and once every 12 months.

Lenders are more willing to give you a loan if you have a good credit record because it indicates that you have a record of keeping your past promises to repay debts and will most likely repay the loan. You can review your credit record by ordering a copy of your credit report. In fact, it is a good idea to review your credit report before you apply for a loan.

Checking for Errors on Your Credit Report

It is your responsibility to ensure that your credit report is accurate. Credit reporting agencies do not investigate the accuracy of reported information unless you ask them to do it.

If you think there is an error on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency and write a letter disputing the error. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.

The credit reporting agency is required to conduct an investigation within 30 days of receiving your letter.


Free Annual Credit Report

It is a good idea to review your credit report and credit score before you apply for a mortgage or loan. In addition, you should review your credit report at least once every 12 months.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows you to obtain, upon request, a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, once every 12 months.

You may also be able to obtain additional “free” credit reports if:

  • You lost your job or were laid off.
  • You were recently denied a loan, insurance policy, or job based on information in your credit report.
  • You are applying for unemployment or receive public assistance but are ready to begin job hunting.
  • You have reason to believe that your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.

You can order and print your annual credit report for free at the following website: www.annualcreditreport.com.

Be sure to correctly spell www.annualcreditreport.com, or link to the site from the Federal Trade Commission’s website: www.ftc.gov.

This is so you avoid being misdirected to “unofficial” websites that may offer free reports, but only with the purchase of other products.

If you obtain a copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com, you can order your credit score at the same time. However, your credit score is not free.

You can also order you credit score, including an explanation of the factors that went into computing the score, by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – directly.

Other credit reporting companies may try to sell you your credit scores as part of a package of services.

  • Beware of any company that charges excessive fees for providing a credit score or advertises free credit score offers but requires that you subscribe to a monthly service such as credit monitoring.
  • Consider the cost of the services being offered, whether you need them, and whether you can find a better deal elsewhere.

Information Not Included in Credit Reports

Credit reports do not contain:

  • Your checking and savings account balances
  • Your income
  • Your medical history
  • Your business account information
  • Your race, gender, religion, or national origin
  • Your driving record