You may think your mother or your spouse are the people who know the most about you, but in reality your credit report may know even more than that. Before you apply for that credit card, personal loan or a mortgage it is essential to know exactly what is involved with a credit report. Waiting until you are applying for credit is not the time to be surprised about what shows up. Take some time now to review this information to make sure it is correct to minimize any problems in the future.
Your credit report will contain the following information:
- Identifying information: this will include your name and any aliases including married names; your current and previous addresses; your social security number; your birth date and past employers. Information about your spouse can also be included. Especially in cases of divorce, it is a good idea to check that this information is both current and correct.
- Credit information: unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find major errors in this type of information on a credit report. Items appearing on your credit report will include information from banks; retailers; utility companies; credit card issuers and other lenders. Student loans, mortgages and co-signers will also show up on a credit report. The overall picture will present a clear payment pattern potential lenders need in order to grant more credit.
- Public record: this data is compiled from materials that are a matter of public record such as bankruptcies, tax liens and monetary judgments.
- Recent inquiries: credit reports will also list recent inquiries on your account for the past year, two years if the enquires are for employment purposes.
Although most of this information is beyond your control, if there is a discrepancy you can contact the credit reporting agency for a correction. It is imperative to check what appears on your credit report and determine if everything showing up is correct and current. In this case, being proactive with your credit report will save you from any unnerving surprises when applying for a new loan. Knowing what information is included on a credit report is the first step to verify it is in good shape and remains that
Youngandthrifty’s two cents: The main thing I knew would be on a credit report are recent inquiries. Inquiries are generated when you apply for new credit cards, for example. I know that if you go over a certain number of credit report inquiries a year (I believe the magic number is about four a year), it is red flagged and your credit score may go down because of the frequent “credit checks”. It’s always important to keep your credit score in good standing, because you never know (knock on wood) when you might need to borrow money (e.g. your car breaks down or is totaled in a car accident and you need to get another one). The only time I ever checked my credit score was when I was applying for the mortgage. I probably should have checked the credit score more than I did… and I should have looked into canceling the dormant credit cards I have from 10 years ago but never got around to canceling.