by Dan Krell © 2013
Why is your credit report important?
Information contained therein could determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage, and possibly the interest rate you are offered. Typically, lenders use credit reports to determine how you generally manage your debts and financial obligations. Besides being used by mortgage lenders; some banks may review your credit report when you apply for a checking account, and even some insurance companies may use your credit report for underwriting purposes.
Your credit report may say more about you than you might know. The report is considered to be a “snapshot” of your financial management ability. The major credit bureaus, Equifax (equifax.com), Experian (experian.com), and Trans Union (transunion.com), act as information repositories for collected information, and make it available to those who need it. The credit bureaus are informed of your activities by your creditors as well as collecting information from public records; the collected information may include details about your identity, existing credit, public records, and recent inquiries.
Identity information may list your name and aliases, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and possibly employment information. Existing credit information lists accounts that are granted to you, and may include: credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and car loan accounts, payment history, and current balance. Public records may reveal liens, judgments, bankruptcies, and open collections.
Anyone with a legitimate need for your credit report can obtain it. Besides banks, lenders, and those who extend credit, others who may be able to view your credit report include (but not limited to) employers, landlords, and child support enforcement. These inquires are listed in the report.
Your credit score is also included in your credit report. Because each of the three credit bureaus use their own algorithms to determine your score based on the bureaus’ information, the three scores may vary somewhat. Many credit decisions are initially determined on credit scores, so it’s important to ensure that the reports are accurate so as to reflect in your credit scores.
Factors that may negatively impact your credit scores include (but not limited to): late payments, accounts referred to collection, and/or reported bankruptcy; having high account balances relative to credit limits; applying for many accounts in a short period of time; and having an excessive number of credit accounts.
With such importance placed on credit reports, it’s important to ensure your reports contain accurate information about you and your credit history. Unfortunately, inaccurate data may find its way into your report through poor reporting, misidentification, and even non-reporting of (positive) information. Additionally, identity theft has been a law enforcement issue for years; and is increasingly considered a major public threat.
You can dispute erroneous data with the reporting company, and/or the credit bureau. If you dispute to the credit bureau, the bureau will undergo an investigation. To assist the investigation, the bureau may require your identifying information, an explanation why the reported information is incorrect, and supporting documentation (such as receipts, police reports, and/or fraud affidavits).
Your credit report is considered to be a “snapshot” of your life and your ability to manage credit. Financial experts recommend that you request your report from each bureau annually to ensure the information is accurate. For more information on credit reports and scores, refer to the Federal Reserve (federalreserve.gov/creditreports), the FTC (ftc.gov), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov).
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of April 22, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.