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After you apply for a new credit card, personal loan or home loan, potential lenders and providers access your credit report to help decide whether to approve you. But just what’s in your credit report, and how can you understand what’s in it enough to be in increase your chances for credit or lending approval?
Our guide below takes you through what’s in your credit report, how long you can expect information to remain in it, getting a copy of your own report and how to correct errors in it that may be holding you back the lending green light.
Your credit report is a detailed record of your borrowing history based on information collected from credit card providers, banks, loan providers and other institutions you’ve borrowed from.
The information in your credit report is used by lenders to assess your ability to repay debt and manage loans. Lenders and service providers look at your credit report to avoid the risk of giving credit to known defaulters or people with bankruptcy or insolvency issues. If they choose to offer credit to such borrowers, they typically charge a higher rate.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every week from the three nationwide credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Before you apply for a credit card or a loan, consider ordering and examining your credit report for accuracy. You will need to provide your full name, contact information, Social Security number and date of birth.
When examining your report, you could find that it shows you owe on account you’ve since paid off or open credit cards you’ve never owned. Even small errors and typos can affect how a lender scores your default risk. Document these errors and dispute them with each of the credit bureaus.
Your credit report lists applications you’ve made for all forms of credit (whether approved or not), your repayment history, details of any defaults you may have, your current debt and information on the accounts you currently hold.
Among the details contained in your credit report are:
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Carefully review your credit history annually to stay on top of making sure that lenders see only the most accurate picture of your financial health. Make sure that each of the elements below are correct and document any problems you find to report to the bureau for fixing.
Lucky, the Fair Credit Report Act limits how long a credit reporting agency can negative report items in your credit report. Neutral or positive items can be reported indefinitely.
The exact period of time that certain types of credit information can remain on your credit history varies by the type of listing.
|Type of listing||How long it can remain on your report|
To correct errors in your credit report, it can help to contact both the credit reporting bureau and the source of the mistake — either the bank, credit card provider or lender who reported it.
You’re not the only one who has access to your credit report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, your credit report can be pulled by the following individuals and organizations seeking consumer information for legitimate business reasons.
Most of the time, these credit reports are only available with your permission. However, there may be a clause in the fine print that states a company or individual can view your credit report once you sign up or use its product — always be sure to inquire if this is the case to protect yourself.
Your credit report will be with you for life, which means you should take the time to understand how it works and learn what to do to keep it clean of any blemishes that could deter lenders, creditors and businesses from working with you.
A healthy credit report will lead to a better credit score.
I’ve never applied for a loan or credit card. Do I have a credit report?
Even if you’ve never applied for a credit product with a bank or lender, you may still have a credit report. You may have had interest-free store finance, which is a type of credit card and listed on your credit report. The only way you can know is to check your credit report.
How do credit reporting agencies manage the information that affects my score?
When it’s time for a listing to be removed, the credit reporting agency will remove it for you. If you find that the listing is not taken off when it should have been, contact the credit reporting agency to have it removed.
How does paying my bills late affect my credit report?
Unpaid or overdue bills can be listed on your credit report and have a negative impact on your credit score.
How will it affect my credit report if I’m rejected?
Lenders may consider any denied applications a red flag. To avoid creating roadblocks to approval, try not to apply for credit many times in one period.
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