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Do you know what a credit report is and how it works?
A credit report is a summary of your personal credit history. Your credit report includes your personal identifying information (PII) such as your address, date of birth, social security number and information about your credit history.
Your credit history is a measure of your ability to repay debts and demonstrated responsibility in repaying them. It is recorded in your credit report, which details the number and types of your credit accounts, how long each account has been open, amounts owed, the amount of credit available, track how consistent bills are paid and the number of recent credit inquiries. Your credit report also contains information regarding any bankruptcies, liens, collections, or judgments.
There are three national credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each collect and receive credit information from creditors. Most national, financial institutions, department stores and bank credit card accounts are included in your file, along with loans; but not all creditors report information to credit bureaus.
The information in your credit report can affect your buying power. It can also affect your chance to get a job, rent or buy a place to live or buy insurance. Credit bureaus report the information to businesses that use it to decide whether to lend you money, give you credit, offer you insurance, or rent you a home. Some employers use credit reports in hiring decisions. The results of your credit history also affects how much you will pay in interest rates when borrowing money.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law, requires the credit bureaus to make sure that the information they collect about you is accurate, gives you a free copy of your report once every 12 months (annualcreditreport.com) and gives you a chance to fix any mistakes.
You can keep up to date with more user-friendly versions of your credit report available through several websites. They highlight key information and provide analysis in plain language. Be aware of the difference between full reports and summaries.
Some websites offer summaries or “snapshots” of your credit report. These “snapshot” reports contain the most pertinent information, which is acceptable for quick reviews of credit and scores.
Having good credit can make achieving your financial and personal goals easier. It could be the difference between qualifying and being denied for an important loan, such as a home mortgage or vehicle loan. In addition, it can directly impact how much you'll have to pay in interest or fees if you're approved.
Additionally, credit scores can impact non-lending decisions, such as whether a landlord will agree to rent you an apartment.
Insurance companies may use credit-based insurance scores to help determine your premiums for vehicle, home and life insurance.
Focus on underlying factors that affect your credit scores. Keep credit inquiries to a minimum, make payments consistently and on time, keep balances on revolving debt reasonable and annually check your credit report for inaccuracies.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sites contain extensive information about credit reports, your rights, and the laws that guarantee these rights. You can learn more about your free reports at the Federal Trade Commission’s website and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website.
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This blog post is intended to provide educational information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. Consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to individual financial situations.
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