Do you know if you have a credit report? Do you know what’s on it?
Your credit report is a collection of information about you and your credit history, and it can have a major impact on your life. It’s important to check your credit regularly. Monitoring your credit can help you identify if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
You can request a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – at www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, student loan, auto or personal loan, or mortgage, you have a credit report. Potential or current employers, landlords, government licensing agencies, insurance underwriters, and potential creditors may all view your credit report.
Entities that look at your credit report are looking to see how promptly you pay your bills, how many credit cards you have, the total amount of credit extended to you, and how much you owe on your accounts.
Know what is – and is not – on your credit report
Your credit report should contain:
- Personal identifying information – name, social security number, date of birth, current and previous addresses and employers
- Credit account information – date opened, credit limit, balance, monthly payment and payment history
- Public record information – bankruptcy, tax and other liens, judgments and, in some states, overdue child support
- Inquiries – companies that request your credit report
The following identifiers are not on your credit report:
- Checking or savings account information
- Medical history
- Race, gender, religion, national origin
- Political preference
- Criminal record
Some information will stay on your credit report indefinitely, while other information should be taken off after a certain amount of time.
- Positive information – indefinitely
- Inquiries – six months to two years
- Most negative information – seven years
- Some bankruptcies – ten years
If you’ve had financial problems, take these steps to clean up your credit. It takes some time but will be well worth the effort.
- Pay off your current debt.
- Make your payments on time.
- Don’t sign up for any new credit cards.
- Stop using your credit cards for new purchases.
- Keep your oldest account open, even if you no longer use it.