How to Read a Credit Report

Your credit score — good or bad — is an important figure, but it’s not the only aspect of your credit report that matters. Beyond that, your credit report provides a window into your financial status, through which lenders can look for information on who you are, how many accounts you have open or closed, and more. This information allows them to make a decision about whether you qualify for a loan or line of credit.

What’s Shown on Your Credit Report?

When you check your credit report, you’ll see a lot of different sections that outline items like your personal information, your credit accounts, and more. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of those sections and the kinds of information they provide:

  • Personal Information: Your credit report will likely display your name, address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number.
  • Employment History: You may find this in the personal information section. Your employment history is there to help verify your identity and give lenders an idea of whether you have a steady income.
  • Consumer Statements: If you’ve submitted any statements to a credit bureau, such as a dispute over an account that was never resolved, it’ll show up in this section.
  • Credit Account Information: Here, you’ll find the details regarding your open and closed accounts. This includes the dates on which they were opened/closed, your payment history, current balance, your status on the loan (current, delinquent, etc.), and your credit utilization.
  • Public Records: Your public records can include tax liens, civil judgements against you, bankruptcies, and foreclosures.
  • Inquiries: If you apply for a line of credit or a loan, the lender will perform a hard inquiry on your credit report. Hard inquiries ding your credit score temporarily, so it’s important to ensure they’re kept at a minimum.

If you notice incorrect information in any of the sections listed above, it’s important to file a dispute right away. If, for example, an account that you paid off is still showing up as open and with a balance months later, it could impact you later when you apply for an auto loan or a new credit card.

How to Get Your Credit Report

You’re entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. So, that’s three free credit reports a year, which is all most people need to keep tabs on their credit information and stay up-to-date. You can request a credit report once every four months, and you’ll have a picture of your credit report throughout the year.

Get More Credit Tips for from Public Service Credit Union

Do you have more questions about how to read a credit report? Contact us at Public Service Credit Union, where we can not only help you find a credit union in Michigan, but also help you make choices that’ll help elevate your credit. While you’re here, be sure to check out our list of five common credit-building myths, so you can avoid mistakes others have made!

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