If you have applied for a home loan, car loan, or a credit card, you have had your credit report reviewed by a lender. The information in your credit report has a major impact on your ability to get a loan and your credit-worthiness in general. It is not unusual for a potential employer or landlord to look at your credit report.
Your credit report affects many areas of your life and it is important that you know what is contained within it. You can request a copy of your credit report through one or all of the major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You are entitled to one free report per year from each of these.
Your credit report is basically a summary of your bill payment history, how much credit you have available to you, and a listing of your monthly debts. Your credit report also contains personal information such as your address, employment history, and your Social Security number.
Any credit accounts you have ever opened such as store credit cards, car loans, mortgage loans, and any other lenders who have granted you credit in the past will be listed and your history in repaying these loans as well. You will also find public records in your credit report such as tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies.
Problems with your credit report such as late payments, loan defaults, and excessive applications for new credit will lower your credit score and affect your ability to get credit in the future. In most cases, negative information in your credit report will stay there for seven years after the last date of activity on the account.
A bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for ten years. In order to improve your credit report, make sure you make all payments on time, never use all the credit that is available to you, and avoid making numerous applications for new credit.
Ken Austin is the webmaster at The Credit Resource Guide and Financial Matters