How to Read a Credit Report

Now that you have a copy of your credit report, you will need to review it and check it for accuracy.  But what does all the information on here mean?????

 

Step 1 – Review your Identification Information

Review the information listed in the following categories, this is the sections EVERYONE will have a listing:

  • Name
  • Current Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Spouse’s Name (if applicable)

 

Make sure the following information is ALSO correct, although not everyone has these listings on the report:

  • Previous Address
  • Occupation
  • Place of Employment
  • Dates of Residences (Past and Present)
  • Dates of Employment
  • Previous Spouses Names

 

You might think to yourself… “Since the current information is correct I won’t bother fixing what is already listed as “past” or “previous”.  DON’T, if it is incorrect it needs to be fixed!

 

Step 2 – Review Your Credit History

This is the content of the report or the “meat and potatoes” of the report. This section contains a list of your open and closed (paid) credit accounts and indicates any late payments on these accounts reported by your creditors. Read this section line for line in every section, it is of the upmost importance, vital. Essential (need I say more?) that you read through this section very carefully. If you find any information that is incorrect or accounts that don’t belong to you, you’ll need to submit a dispute letter to the credit-reporting agency.

Basically your report will be divided into sections, headers or grouping of information in the following format:
Company Name – The company that is reporting the information.

Account Number – lists your account number with the company, some only report partial account numbers, and in case of collection companies they may assign their own number.

Type of Account Holders Status – Abbreviations may vary depending on the reporting agency but here are some of the most common:

  • I – Individual
  • U – Undesignated
  • J – Joint
  • A – Authorized User
  • C – Co-maker/Co-signer
  • S – Shared

Date Opened – This is the month and year you opened this account with the credit grantor.

Months Reviewed – Lists the number of months the account history has been reported.

Last Activity – Indicates the date of the last activity on this account, can reflect the date of your last payment or last charge

High Credit – Lists the highest amount ever accumulated or the credit limit. If the account is an installment loan, the original loan amount will be listed.

Terms – For installment loans, which are represented with a “I”  this is the number of installments on original loan, the “months left” is sometimes used or listed elsewhere on the report. or it can reflect the amount of the monthly payments. For revolving accounts, this column is often left blank or contains a “R”.

Balance – Indicates the amount owed on the account at the time of the credit reporting date.

Past Due – This column lists any amount past due at the time of the credit reporting date.

Status/State of Account/Account Standing – A combination of letters and numbers are used to indicate the type of account of the timeliness of payment.  These include:

  • O – Open
  • R – Revolving
  • I – Installment
  • C – Collection Account

Date Reported – States the date of the last time information on this account was updated by your creditor.

Collection Accounts Section -If you’ve had any accounts referred to collection agencies this is where you will see them being reported. The name of the collection agency will be listed along with the amount you owe and (sometimes) their contact information.

Public Records – Here you’ll find a listing of public record items (from local, state and federal courts) that reflect your history of meeting financial obligations. These include:

  • Bankruptcy records
  • Federal Tax Liens
  • State Tax Liens
  • Judgments
  • Collection accounts
  • Overdue child support (in some states)

 

* Inquiry Section -This is a complete list of the businesses and individuals who have requested your credit report in the last 24 months. If you see names of businesses that sound unfamiliar, you should find out who they are and why they requested a copy of YOUR credit report! Remember, only companies that have received your written authorization should be able to check your credit history.

 


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