If you haven’t seen a copy of your credit report recently, it’s time to get a copy and see what you’re dealing with. Chances are, you have three credit reports—one with each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These are for-profit companies, regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, that collect and compile data from creditors and public records. Creditors, employers, landlords and insurance companies purchase this information to use in making credit-granting and other business decisions.
The three credit reporting agencies may have slightly different information because while most major creditors report activity to all three, many smaller creditors report to only one or two of them. Accessing Your Credit Report
It’s a good idea to check your credit report once a year, before making any major purchases or life changes, or if you think your information has been compromised through a security breach. You can buy your credit reports directly from each of the credit reporting agencies, however, there are ways to access your reports for free.
One source is www.AnnualCreditReport.com . This service was established by the credit reporting agencies to provide every consumer a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year, upon request.
Additionally, you may receive a free credit report directly from the credit reporting agencies under certain circumstances. If you have been denied credit, are unemployed but looking for a job, are a victim of identity theft or fraud, or are receiving public assistance, you may qualify for a free credit report directly from the credit reporting agencies.
Information on Your Report
Your credit reports include your personal information, your credit history, and a record of who has reviewed your report in the past two years.
Your personal information includes your name, past names, current address, past addresses, your Social Security Number, employer, date of birth, and information about your spouse.
Your credit history is the most significant portion of your credit report. This will show your payment history with your current and past creditors, along with your balances, dates of activity, payment amounts, and the types of debt you have. If there is any information about your credit history in the public record, such as foreclosures, bankruptcy, judgments, or other court-ordered collection activity, it will be indicated in this area of your report as well.
The inquiries section of your credit report indicates which creditors or other businesses have accessed your credit report in the previous 24 months.