A credit report is a summary of how a consumer has used his or her credit accounts. Credit reports are used by potential lenders and creditors to help them decide whether to extend an applicant credit and at what terms. All consumers, especially former bankruptcy debtors must check their credit reports regularly to ensure that the information contained therein is accurate, complete, and reliable.
A credit report shows the types of accounts and their payment history, as well as certain other information that’s reported to credit bureaus by lenders and creditors. These reports are used as part of a lender’s decision-making process to determine whether to extend credit. Other parties, such as potential employers or landlords, may also access credit reports to help them decide whether to offer employment or housing. Credit reports may even be reviewed when buying insurance or when applying for utilities.
The three credit bureaus that provide credit reports nationwide are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Note that credit reports from each may not be identical, because some lenders and creditors may not report to all three agencies. It is often a good idea to check a credit report when planning a large purchase, such as a car or a home.
A credit report typically contains the following types of information:
This section of a credit report includes personal information, including name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. The identifying information contained in a credit report is not used to calculate credit scores.
Credit account information
This information includes the types of accounts, the date these accounts were opened, the account’s credit limit or loan amount, account balances, and payment history. It may not contain all of a consumer’s credit accounts because some closed accounts disappear from a report after a certain period, or accounts are not reported to the credit agency by lenders.
There are two types of inquiries: “soft” and “hard.”
Soft inquiries do not affect or impact credit scores. “Soft” inquiries may result from a consumer checking his or her credit reports, companies extending pre-approved offers of credit or insurance, or current lenders and creditors conducting periodic reviews of a consumer’s accounts known as “account reviews.”
Regularly checking credit reports may help any consumer monitor credit accounts, thus allowing them to recognize inaccurate or incomplete information or suspicious activity that may indicate identity theft.
“Hard” inquiries occur when companies or individuals review a credit report because the consumer has applied for credit or service. Hard inquiries remain on a credit report for up to two years and may negatively impact credit scores, although the impact may lessen with time.
This section contains information about bankruptcy public records and related details such as the filing date and chapter or type of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
This section includes past-due accounts that have been referred to an agent for collection.
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