How To Read A Credit Report – A Basic Guide

Kieran was looking to get a new car and stopped by a Honda dealer. She really wanted a particular Accord that they had. But was very upset when she learned they would not approve her for a loan. She was told it was due to a couple of things on her credit report showing unpaid and defaulted. Just recently, she happened to get a copy of her credit report for another matter; however she really didn’t understand it. But she knew those accounts were already paid. Later that day she called the credit bureaus and faxed in the receipts. However the Honda dealer said everyone has to wait 90 days to re-apply. The Accord she really wanted sold. This situation could have been completely avoided and Kieran would have gotten that Accord if she only understood what the credit report said. Then she would have known to get it corrected and update it, BEFORE she ever applied for that car loan.

And that is the reason for this article. You will be given a basic overview of consumer credit reports. This article will be an easy guide on learning how to read and understand a credit report.

There are only 3 major credit bureaus in America. Experian (use to be TRW), Equifax, and Trans Union. Any other bureau that may be in your local area is in some way affiliated with one of these three major bureaus. Any person, or company, that pulls your credit is getting it either directly or indirectly from one of these three bureaus. These 3 are the only credit bureaus that matter in the U.S.

So now the question… How do I read my credit report?

It is not surprising to hear that, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union all do their reports differently. But overall it really doesn’t matter because all credit reports are basically divided into four sections: Your Identifying Information, Your Credit History, Your Public Records, and the Inquiries which have been done on you.

1) Identity Information: This Identity Information section tells anyone reading the credit report exactly who you are. Name, date of birth, and social security number. Names may be listed more than once to reflect each way it has been previously spelled. If you applied for credit before and someone misspelled your name on the inquiry, it will be on your credit report indefinitely. Then if you are a female you will see the maiden last name and the married last name, also if you were divorced then went back to the maiden last name, if you marred again after that, etc. There is a possibility that you will see a lot of variations of your name. The important thing is that you review it closely to look for anything you do not recognize.

Additional information in this section will be your current address, previous addresses with telephone numbers. Plus driver’s license number, the employer, all past employers, the spouse name, etc. Any info that helps to indentify you.

2) Credit History: This is also sometimes called the accounts list, or your trade lines. This section will list your current and active accounts as well as any credit you have had in the past that was reported to the credit bureau.

In general, this section is going to list everything in the past 7 years. Most agree that the credit bureaus computers automatically delete anything that has “the date of last activity” that exceeds 7 years. For example if you open a account at Sears in June 1995 and made payments every month, then got delinquent and made your last payment on March 2004. Then March 2004 is the “date of last activity” and when the 7 years will start counting down. Then, say you want to try and fix your credit and sent them a payment in Oct 2007. The 7 years will start all over again from Oct 2007.

Each account listed will include the name of the creditor and the account number. The Credit History section will also include:

* Date account was opened * If the account is in your name only or if there is a co-signer * Total amount of the loan, which is listed as the high credit limit, or highest amount on the credit card * Existing balance as of date of credit report * The fixed payments each month for loans, or the minimum due each month for credit cards * The status as of the date of the credit report (open, inactive, closed, paid, etc.) * How have the payments been made on the account

How well you paid on the accounts is one of the main things that everyone checking your credit is looking at. It is reflected in a two part code.

The first part of the code is a letter that will either be an R or a I. The I stands for installment or fixed loan, these are set loans with a set payment amount, like car loans, mortgages, student loans, etc. And R stands for revolving which are mainly credit cards, department store cards, or line of credit, etc.

The second part is a number from 1 to 9. The 1 indicates that there have been no delinquencies and the account is current and paid on time. The 9 indicates numerous delinquencies, missed payments, partial payments, etc. Obviously 1 is the best, then 9 is the worst, and then there’s all the stages in between. Bottom line, anything other than a 1 is not looked at too favorably.

The codes are not difficult to understand once they are explained. People want to see I1 and R1. However they frequently create questions. Experian has started to insert plain language description like… never pays late… typically 30 days late… defaulted… etc.

3) Public Records: You do not want to see anything in this section. Only negative stuff that are the resort of court actions are listed in this section. Judgments, wage garnishments, bankruptcies, tax liens, etc. Something listed in this section will bring down your credit faster that anything else.

4) Inquires: Just as the name says, this section contains a list of companies that have requested to pull your credit report.

There are two types of credit inquires. Soft inquires are from companies who want to send out promotional information to a group, or either your current creditors monitoring your account. Then there are Hard inquiries which are the ones that you made happen by applying for credit somewhere like a loan, car financing, credit card, etc.

Most people are overly concern about inquires having a negative impact on their credit. It is true but it usually takes an awful lot of inquires before it will affect you. There is a certain amount that is just expected and considered normal. And when you want to buy something like a car, or a home, it is expected that you will shop around, therefore two or more of these type inquires in a 14 day period counts as just one.

As stated earlier, there are many credit companies who all get information either directly, or indirectly, from one of the main 3 credit bureaus. Then they format their credit reports in many different ways, and list things in different order. However they all will contain these 4 basic sections.

It is extremely important to know how to read your credit report. And knowing exactly what is on it is very important.

Many in the credit industry estimate that as many as 80% of all credit reports contain some kind of misinformation, mistake, or have not been updated.

If you do see an error on your report. You then need to speak to each of the bureaus, Trans Union, Experian and Equifax. You can fax directly to them, if you have acceptable documentation like a receipt or invoice. If not the creditors will have to be contacted and will have 30 days to respond.

We hope that this has been a benefit to you. Our goal was to provide the basic information that will teach anyone how to read and interpret a credit report. This is the only way to determine if it is correct, or if you need to have it updated. When you are planning to finance a car, buy a home, or applying for any kind of credit, you need to know what is on your credit report before the people making the decisions see it. Remember that when you request your own credit report it is never counts as an inquiry.

For over 10 years Consumers Info USA has been connecting people with the online services they need to help them live better. Go Now for more information on how to check your credit report and a link to order your online credit report

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Tips and Insights Regarding Credit Report Repair

After you have your individual credit report and completely understand it you might determine that there is a need to execute some credit report repair works. Credit report fix is oftentimes required; in only exactly the same way as other things usually requires fix after a particular period of use. There are two techniques to finish a credit report restoration. The first being free credit history restoration and 2nd becoming more pricey. According to the level of credit report restoration you’ll want to do, the actual quantity of time essential to repair it plus the details that it’ll require you could find that you don’t have any option about which credit file restoration approach to go after.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can dispute blunders in their credit history free-of-charge. It may be some time consuming to pull your report, document the error, kind up a letter and deliver it in, a lot of people employ credit repair companies doing the bland benefit them. There isn’t any genuine explanation, aside from the problem of time, to put on cash for work that you could effortlessly do your self.

Credit report restoration organizations need an installment payment at the beginning and a monthly competitive charge after that. And in addition, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union don’t approve of credit report fix organizations. Performing on your part, the credit history fix service takes your credit report, and using the reasonable credit rating work and in the pipeline methods, dispute any unfavorable product in your credit report record which you have actually selected. Some organizations could even offer an upgraded service to continue keeping track of your reports for other negative damage to come. This option of credit file fix is far more high priced it is not as time intensive or nerve racking as filing and dealing with the disputes yourself.

Don’t fall for the adverts that claim an agency can erase bad credit from your own report. The only thing for legal reasons that may be altered on a credit report is inaccurate information. When you yourself have had a bankruptcy, the only thing that will lawfully take it off from your credit report is time. Credit restoration agencies fee anywhere from $ 400 to $ 2000 with regards to their services while the the reality is they are not doing whatever you can’t do for yourself. For $ 30 you can easily acquire a credit report that listings your history with three credit bureaus. Other financial investment in cleaning your credit file is in the worth of the time it requires.

The next thing towards credit restoration should report incorrect information towards the credit bureau. It is legal to attempt to fix your credit score on your own by having untrue, out-dated or incorrect information from your credit file. A legitimate credit restoration company with legal professionals whom specialize in credit issues can request that harming information be taken off your credit history.

Discover ways to properly fix your credit by obtaining a free content of the credit report from http://credit-free-report-online.info – a popular credit report web site that prrovides assistance with credit conflicts.

How To Prevent Errors on Your Credit Report

Whenever somebody applies for credit or financing, his or her credit report will be pulled electronically from any of the three major consumer reporting agencies (CRA). These CRAs are Experian, Trans Union, or Equifax – companies that are responsible for maintaining correct and up-to-date credit information around the country. Everyone is probably aware that these three nationwide credit bureaus have to monitor billions of data records therefore it is not inevitable to find errors with the reports. A majority of consumers would have at least one omission or inaccurate detail on their credit report.

It is for this very reason that as a consumer, the responsibility of checking your own credit information falls on your shoulders. Make sure that you get a copy of your credit report from each of the three Credit Reporting Agencies. You should contact each credit bureau and ask for your free credit report (you are entitled to 1 free copy every year). If you have been denied credit within the past 60 days, you are also entitled to a free credit report.

Here is a list of each credit bureau. Make that call and start checking your credit info.

Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta , GA 30374-0241;(800) 685-1111.
Experian(formerly TRW),P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742).
Trans Union , P.O. Box 1000 , Chester , PA 19022 ; (800) 916-8800.

Using The Internet To Obtain Your Credit Report

You can also use the internet to obtain your credit report. Many companies offer instant access to your credit report online and will offer you a free credit report if you try their credit monitoring service for 30 days. Credit monitoring services are a great way to keep track of your credit and stop potential identity thieves. As soon as you or someone else applies for credit using your name and social security number, these services will alert you via email. If you did not request this new credit you just need to log into your account and start the process of alerting the credit bureaus of potential fraud activity.

How is the information found on your credit report used

The credit information that is reported on your credit report will be used to evaluate you when you apply for credit, insurance, employment, and other purposes allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Therefore it is crucial that you review your credit reports for accuracy from at least annually.

Why is it important to monitor your credit report

By monitoring your credit report you will save yourself a lot of problems or unpleasant surprises when you have to get that credit card or if you’re considering buying a home. You will also be aware of any potential problems that may stop the credit grantor from approving you for the credit you seek. Knowing exactly what a lender will see when they pull your credit will allow you either try to dispute the items and have them removed from your report or prepare explanations for the credit problems and discuss them with your potential lender BEFORE you apply for that line of credit.

What to do if you find inaccurate information

– Be meticulous in examining your credit information. If you see any discrepancies, verify them as soon as possible. The law says that the credit bureau should examine the matter within a reasonable amount of time, usually 30 days.

– Dispute inaccurate information your credit report. Some credit repair specialist suggests you dispute items one at a time. Some say do it all at once. I have had clients that have done both, and there was never any one way that was more successful then the other in our case. I truly believe it depends on the agent you get at the credit bureau.

– Write an ORIGINAL dispute letter. Don’t just copy a form you found online. If you found it, then so did potentially hundreds if not thousands of other people. The agents at the credit bureaus in the disputes area have probably seen any freely given online dispute letter hundreds if not thousands of times. They will not take your request as seriously as they should if you do this.

The credit bureau is required to investigate and if that item cannot be confirmed within a reasonable amount of time, that credit record must be removed from the credit file. They must provide you with a free copy of your corrected credit report. Send your dispute letter to the credit bureau via certified mail, return receipt requested. If you are using a credit monitoring system you can do this online. Just make sure they send your dispute to all 3 agencies. If the credit bureau completes its investigation and decides that the negative information should remain in your file, you can add a letter of explanation to your credit report to refute the claim.

Liz Roberts is a freelance writer and loan consultant. The website BadCreditResources.com offers resources that specialize in providing loans and credit cards for people with bad credit. Click here for the list of bad credit cards.