"Protect Yourself and Get Credit Checked" - Understanding Your Credit Report
In light of the Equifax data breach, I thought it was a great time to write about the credit report process for those who may have questions about what happened and what you need to do. It is the responsibility of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to keep your confidential credit information secure, however it is OUR responsibility as owners of that information to monitor the credit bureaus and what they are reporting. So let's get to it.
What is it?
Your credit report contains information about your past and present credit transactions. It's used primarily by potential lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness. So if you're about to apply for credit, especially for something significant like a mortgage, you'll want to get and review a copy of your credit report.Your credit report usually starts off with your personal information: your name, address, Social Security number, telephone number, employer, past address and past employer, and (if applicable) your spouse's name. The bulk of the information in your credit report is account information. For each creditor, you'll find the lender's name, account number, and type of account; the opening date, high balance, present balance, loan terms, and your payment history; and the current status of the account. You'll also see status indicators that provide information about your payment performance over the past 12 to 24 months. They'll show whether the account is or has been past due, and if past due, they'll show how far (e.g., 30 days, 60 days). They'll also indicate charge-offs or repossessions.
Because credit bureaus collect information from courthouse and registry records, you may find notations of bankruptcies, tax liens, judgments, or even criminal proceedings in your file. At the end of your credit report, you'll find notations on who has requested your information in the past 24 months. When you apply for credit, the lender requests your credit report--that will show up as an inquiry. Other inquiries indicate that your name has been included in a creditor's prescreen program. If so, you'll probably get a credit card offer in the mail.You may be surprised at how many accounts show up on your report.