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What's Included in Your Consumer Credit Report?

Credit reporting has become big news lately, and chances are, you are wondering where you stand with your credit history. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act), every American consumer has the right to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). To order your report, you can utilize the special Web site that has been set up (AnnualCreditReport.com) or call 877.322.8228. You can order all three credit reports at one time, or stagger your requests.

When you receive your credit reports, you’ll notice several different sections. First, you’ll find personal information, including your name, last known address, Social Security number, employment history, and birthday. This information is used for informational purposes and is not used in the calculation of your credit score.

Next, you’ll find information regarding any loans and credit cards that are in your name, including accounts that have been paid off. This section includes the type of account, loan term, current or recent balance, the date the account was opened, and payment history including any delinquencies. If you’ve had any bankruptcies or bank foreclosures, those will also be listed.

Inquiries made into your credit history are also included. If you have too many inquiries related specifically to opening new lines of credit, your history may be viewed negatively, because it will appear as if you are currently looking to acquire more debt. However, other inquiries, such as those for promotional mailings, by you, or from current creditors, do not hurt your credit.

Your credit score may also be included, but is generally not provided free of charge. You can, however, request it, for a fee, when you order your free credit reports. Your credit score is a way for creditors to compare your credit history with others.  For example, your FICO Score will range from 300 to 850—the higher, the better. By looking at your credit score, creditors can quickly decide your creditworthiness and risk. Although credit scores change periodically, it’s appropriate to request and pay to receive your score once per year or before a major purchase.

When you review your credit report and score, make sure that all of the information included is recent and accurate. The credit agencies do deal with enormous amounts of data, and it’s possible that some information could be incorrect. Thankfully, it is possible to have inaccurate information removed from your reports.