What’s a Credit Report and What Does It Contain?
A credit report is a detailed list of many, if not all, of your financial related obligations. Credit reports are used by lenders, insurance companies, employers, and utility providers to determine the risk of having some sort of relationship with you. The information on your credit reports is also the sole basis for your credit scores.
What Can I Expect To See On My Credit Report?
You will likely see a record of any mortgages, credit card accounts, auto loans, personal loans, and student loans on your credit reports. These accounts can be in various stages of their existence, meaning they don’t all have to be “open” and/or active. Credit reports can contain accounts that have been closed or paid off many years prior.
Unfortunately, if you’ve had any financial obligations go into default or to “collections” that will also show up on your credit reports. This could include, but is not limited to, defaulted credit card accounts, broken apartment or auto leases, unpaid public utilities, and unpaid medical bills. There is actually a separate section on a credit report for these types of 3rd party collection accounts.
Credit reports can also list a modest amount of public record information. Traditionally the only type of public records that would show up on a credit report are financial related. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, state or Federal tax liens, and judgments can all show up on your credit reports. As you’ve no doubt already figured out, none of these are considered positive.
A record of who pulled your credit reports and on what dates is also going to be on your credit reports. These are referred to as credit inquiries. So, for example, if you go to a bank and apply for a credit card they’ll likely want to see your credit report and credit score prior to making any sort of decision about your application. When they pull your credit report the credit bureau will post an inquiry showing that the bank pulled your report that day.
If you have not applied for credit in the past two years you will not have any of these types of creditor inquiries however you may have another type of inquiry referred to as a “soft” inquiry. Soft inquiries have no impact on your credit scores and are only visible to you, the consumer. Soft inquiries are normally caused when your name is sold to a credit card issuer so that they can determine whether or not to send you a credit card solicitation. Soft inquiries can also occur when lenders with whom you already have a relationship pull your credit reports as part of their account management practices.
Finally, your credit reports are going to contain a large amount of your personal identification information including your current name, any former names, your current and former addresses, your date of birth, and your Social Security Number. Also, if you’ve gone by different names or variances of your current name, those will also likely be a part of your credit reports.