Your credit report (also called a consumer credit report or consumer credit file) is a factual record of your entire financial history and current status. It contains a summary of your credit activities, your credit accounts and outstanding loans, the balances on your credit cards and loans, your bill paying history, and more.
Based on the information that’s on your credit report, a single number is calculated – Your Credit Score. Lenders and insurers will usually base their decision solely on your credit score, rather than dig through your credit report.
Your credit reports and scores are extremely important because they can determine whether or not you get a mortgage, car loan or other loan, as well as what interest rate you are charged for these loans.
Whenever you apply for a loan, a new credit card, insurance or even a job – the potential lenders requests a copy of your financial history from the reporting agencies (also known as credit reporting bureaus).
Based on what’s in your credit report and what your credit score is – the potential lenders approve or deny your request. If you are approved then your credit score determines the interest rate you are charged for that loan.
There are 3 major credit bureaus that collect financial information on consumers: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The reporting agencies work with lenders, creditors, insurers and employers to update and distribute your credit profile and financial information to the appropriate institutions.
Once you are approved for a loan or a new credit card, the creditor reports your activities to one, two or all of the three every 30 days. The credit reporting agencies update your credit file with the new information they receive from the creditors and lenders.
Your credit profile (i.e. credit report and credit score) keeps changing constantly based on your financial activity. The next time you apply for a credit card or loan, the process repeats.
If you understand how credit reports work, you can protect your rights and avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous credit-repair clinics and so-called credit doctors.
Here are credit reports and scores main topics:
What Information is on my annual credit report?
A brief discussion on the type of information that may be found on your consumer file (aka credit report).
Why Check Your Credit Report
Two good reasons for checking your free annual credit report.
Who Has Access to My Credit Report
A discussion explaining who can access your consumer file, on what terms, what part of it is accessible and how it affects you or your credit score.
The 3-in-1 Credit Report
What is a three in one credit report, what are its benefits and how does it differ from a single bureau credit report.
Equifax Free Credit Report
Contact information and instructions for obtaining free credit reports from Equifax.
Experian Free Credit Report
Contact information and instructions for obtaining free credit reports from Experian.
TransUnion Free Credit Report
Contact information and instructions for obtaining free credit reports from TransUnion.
Credit Report Freeze
Also known as security freeze or credit lock, it enables you to block access to your credit reports and scores. It is viewed as the most effective way to prevent financial identity theft.
Credit Report Scams
Everyday consumers fall to credit report scams that either try to steal their information, falsely sign them for credit checks or simply sell them a free government sponsored service for a fee. This is how you recognize and avoid these scams.