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Credit reports are the files that credit report agencies maintain about your credit history and share with the rest of the world...read more
What is a Credit Report?
Consumers looking to buy a home, get a credit card, or obtain some other form of financial help have to clear a pretty big hurdle.
It's called a credit report.
Credit reports are used by creditors to see how you've managed previous credit obligations and to determine whether or not you're a good credit risk. It tells them whether it's a good bet that you'll pay off that big credit card payment or make payments on that new Cadillac right on time.
Creditors make those calculations based on the data included in your credit report. As a U.S. citizen, and presumably the owner of a Social Security number, you're financial history is a public record. Your financial background, including payment history, can be found and condensed by any one of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Each of these companies are veritable clearinghouses of personal financial information of anybody, citizen or not, with a U.S. Social Security number. The data that each of the "Big Three" accumulates are the meat and potatoes of your credit report – any one piece of data can mean the loss of a home loan or the rejection of a credit card application due to weak credit.
The list of organizations who can view your credit report is a limited one. It includes:
Your credit report is also used to generate your credit score (also known as a credit rating). That score indicates whether you're a god credit risk or not. A high score means you're a good candidate to pay back a loan – on time. A low score means you have a history of not doing such a great job of paying back your debts.
Credit reports include key identifying information such as your name, current and former addresses, your employer (if it's available), credit and loan histories, inquiries, collection records and public records such as bankruptcy filings and tax liens. Each of record of previous and current credit and loan records will show your payment history going back 7 years, along with other account details like credit limit, when the account was established, the type of account (installment, revolving,), etc.
Your credit report is essentially your financial resume. It's up to you to keep it as clean as possible. Your financial future may well depend on it.
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