Home > Credit 101 > Does Everything on My Credit Report Affect My Credit Scores?

Comments 0 Comments

Credit reports, as you’ve no doubt heard, are tremendously important. After all, the information on them dictates your credit scores, which, in turn, dictate whether you’re able to readily score things like a mortgage, auto loan, credit card and even affordable insurance or cellphone plans.

But not every piece of information on that crucial report carries weight.

Personal Info Is a No-Go

“No identifying information affects credit scores,” Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian, said in an email. “That includes things like your name, address, previous addresses, date of birth, Social Security number and so on. I’m sometimes asked if your ZIP code is considered in credit scores. It is not.”

Your age also isn’t technically factored in your credit scores, Griffin said. (It is true, however, that older folks tend to net higher numbers than younger ones, all factors being equal, because your length of credit history — determined primarily by the length of your oldest credit account and the average age of all your accounts put together — is a major component of most credit scoring models.)

And employment information, including your salary, occupation, employer and job history can sometimes appear on your credit report, but it’s generally not factored in traditional credit scores.

Making a Statement 

Credit scores, too, generally don’t factor in statements a consumer adds to their credit reports, such as fraud alerts or disputes.

“However, the statements may cause the application to be delayed in order to verify your identity or explain or document why you disagree with dispute results, which is exactly what should happen,” Griffin said.

Statements indicating that an account is being repaid through credit counseling do not technically affect your score.

But “if the counseling service negotiates debt settlement on your behalf, the account could then be reported as ‘settled,’ which will hurt credit scores,” Griffin said. “It’s the status of the account, not the statement, that affects the score. The term ‘settled’ indicates the account was not paid in full, or as agreed under contract.”

Still, some lenders may view a statement referring to credit counseling as a positive, he said, “because it shows that you have taken initiative to try to learn how to manage your credit and debt more wisely.”

The Skinny on Inquiries (& Authorized Users)

Soft inquiries — essentially those unrelated to a consumer’s request for financing — may appear on your personal credit report but won’t damage your credit in the same way that a hard inquiry will.

“Inquiries for employment purposes, insurance, pre-approved offers, account reviews by existing lenders, and getting your own report do not affect credit scores,” Griffin said. “Only inquiries resulting from your application for credit are shared with lenders and could affect credit scores.”

Finally, Griffin said, credit reports may show that you are an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. But that account should only affect your scores if the payment history associated with them is positive.

“If [the] payments become late, you can request that the account be removed,” he said. “So being an authorized user on an account can help credit scores but shouldn’t hurt them.”

Aiming for Accuracy

Of course, you shouldn’t discount errors regarding any of the aforementioned pieces of info that may appear on your credit report, given that they aren’t actually affecting your scores. Inaccurate information, like an unfamiliar address or out-of-left-field soft inquiry, could be a sign identity theft has occurred. So if you discover any, you should still dispute the information with the credit bureau in question.

You may also want to consider putting a fraud alert or even a credit freeze on your credit reports. At the very least, you should continue to monitor your credit closely to help make sure no fraudulent accounts have been taken out in your name. You can pull your credit reports each year for free on AnnualCreditReport.com and view your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: Rostislav_Sedlacek

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team