Frequently Asked Questions About Credit Reports

Most people confuse their credit report with their credit score or credit rating. A credit report is a list of information that is compiled by money lenders, such as banks.

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It includes a detailed record of payment history, frequency, and total payments made. On the other hand, a credit score is a single number that is calculated based on data from your credit report. The number can be anywhere from 300 to 850. The higher the score, the better your credit. 

What’s included in a credit report?

It’s common to wonder what information can be found on your credit report, or why you need a credit report at all. But knowing what kind of information can be found on your credit report can help you to understand which factors influence your overall credit score. The following information is frequently included in a credit report:

  • A list of businesses that have loaned money or credit to the individual
  • The total amount of credit and/or loan offered by each lender
  • How often the individual pays off credit and/or loans, including the amount paid each time 
  • The individual’s home or business address
  • Any other public information

What are credit reports for?

Credit reports are used to help businesses and lenders decide to lend you money. They may influence your mortgage rates, credit card applications, housing rentals, or financing on big purchasing. In extreme cases, they make even affect your job applications. As a result, it’s important to work towards a positive credit report and a high credit score.     

Who can view credit reports?

You might be surprised to learn that your financial history isn’t totally private. The following individuals and groups can check your credit report:

  • Creditors
  • Landlords
  • Utility companies
  • Student loan organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Employers
  • Collection agencies
  • Mortgage lenders
  • Judgement creditors
  • Anyone with a court order

In addition, your credit score is visible to landlords, retail stores, credit card companies, banks, and car dealers.

How can I improve my credit report/score?

If you have a poor credit report or score, you can improve it. Use your credit cards wisely, paying your balance on time every month. Pay your utility bills and rent on time, and do not overspend—that is, do not spend more money than you are making. Ideally, put some money into a savings account each month. Try budgeting if you’re having trouble figuring out where your money is going and what you’re overspending on.    

What else can you do?

You should check your credit report regularly. There are some online services which allow you to check your credit for free, and you’re legally entitled to see your report at least three times per year. Checking your credit report regularly and staying on top of your bill payments can also help you to avoid identity theft. You should make sure to scan through your report for any inaccuracies, and if necessary, report them. 

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