Credit Report Information

What’s on Your Credit Report?

It’s vital for you to have your personal credit report information for a number of reasons. The main one is to protect you from identity theft. If you have fast access to your credit report information, you can act quickly if there is any suspicious activity which causes you to suspect credit card fraud or account hijacking. Another reason is to help you know your credit picture, so you won’t waste your time trying to get a mortgage loan that you aren’t eligible for because of a low credit score, or so you can shop for the best rates if your credit score is high. You can get complimentary credit report information once a year from the credit bureaus, but you will probably want more frequent reports so you can stay on top of your credit situation.

But what’s actually in your credit report? Before you make the sound decision to receive your credit report information, you should have an idea of what you’ll be getting. Although all credit reports that come from different credit bureaus are different in their own ways, there are four basic sections you should expect to see in any credit report.

Personal Information

The first thing you are likely to see on any credit report is basic personal data such as your name, date of birth, current address, former addresses and social security number. This section will also have your employment history: a list of past employers and their contact information. You don’t need to be too concerned with this section, but you should still check it for errors before getting deeper into the report.

Matters of Public Record

Here is where public record events that are relevant to your credit are posted. If you ever wondered if a bankruptcy will appear in your credit report information, the answer is yes, and this is where it will appear (although it will generally drop off after seven years). Other public record information that can appear here includes tax liens, foreclosures, and court disputes.

Payment Record

This is a big one. Here is where your whole credit history is laid out. It includes who has extended you credit, how much, for how long, and how diligent you have been about paying them back. It shows any late payments and any charge offs or delinquencies. You should definitely pay special attention to this section. If there are any creditors or charges you don’t recognize, then you need to take action. If your credit has been suffering, then there should be some good clues as to why in this section.

Credit Inquiries

The final bit of credit report information that you can expect to find in any report is your list of credit inquiries. This tells you how many lenders have checked your credit over the last six months. Although a lender will not necessarily tell you when they are going to run a credit check on you, you should still be able to recognize everyone who has enquired into your credit history. If there’s anyone you do not recognize, then it’s time to do some investigating.

What’s Not on Your Credit Report: Credit Score

Ironically, the one thing most people will probably go straight for when looking at their credit reports won’t necessarily even be there. The FICO score, that famous credit rating that gives your credit power a numerical ranking between 300 and 850, isn’t even a standard part of a credit report. If you order a credit report from a credit agency, they will try to sell you this separately. However, your credit report package from comes with a free credit score.

Again, the actual layout of your credit report may vary. Remember that there are three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, and they each do things a little differently. You may wish to get credit report information from all three bureaus to get a complete picture. However the report is laid out, you should always be looking for these four basic sections and verifying the information provided.