The Sections of a Credit Report
After you obtain a credit report through annualcreditreport.com, let’s go over what is in the credit report. The report is broken down into five sections with different information. Each time you receive a report, go through it and make sure everything is accurate.
Section #1: Personal Information
Like many other reports, the first part goes over your personal information such as your name, address, and place of employment. Previous addresses and names will be on the report as well if applicable to the person. When going through this section, the obvious thing to do is to make sure that the information is yours and not someone else’s. Make sure everything is accurate and spelled correctly. Some confusion can happen when applying for credit if different name variations exist on the report (e.g. Michael Smith vs. Mike Smith). Make sure that your name is consistent with everything on the report, as well as any time you apply for credit.
Section #2: Credit Summary
The next section summarizes the total amount of lines of credit you have on your report. It will show each type of account (mortgage, installment, etc.), the number of each type, and the outstanding balance of each one. It will show the total amount of open, closed, and delinquent accounts. This is just a snapshot of all your accounts, but it should make sense. If anything out of the ordinary is present, look to the next section to get more specifics.
Section #3: Account Information
The bulk of your report will be this section. This section will take each individual credit account and gives all the details in regards to it. This includes the Creditor, the account number, the type of account, the date opened (and closed if closed), the balance or limit, the monthly payment, payment status/history, and any other remarks. When reading through this section, take your time to go through each item to make sure it is accurate. If it lists a missed payment in error, be sure to fix that, as it can have a detrimental effect on your credit score.
Section #4: Public Records
Not everyone will have something in this section. This section includes anything that is recorded publicly such as bankruptcies, tax liens, and state and county court records. It will not include any criminal convictions. Public records may stay on a credit report for up to 10 years. It is ideal not to have anything listed in this section. When going through this section, make sure that there are no inaccuracies listed. This section can do the most damage to someone’s credit worthiness, so errors need to be corrected as soon as possible.
Section #5: Credit Inquiries
There are two types of inquiries: “Hard” and “Soft”. Hard inquiries are a result of lenders checks your credit to approve lending you credit. Soft inquiries are made by outside parties (usually without your knowledge/consent) for promotional purposes. Inquiries are kept on your report for up to 24 months. Hard inquiries count against you, so those should be limited. Soft inquiries do not count against you. When you look at the hard inquiries, make sure that all of them make sense. Hard inquiries that you are not familiar with can be a red flag for identity theft.
Those are the parts of the credit report. The first time you go through your credit report, it can be incredibly daunting (and boring), but it is crucial to protecting your credit. The more times you get your free report and look through it, the easier it will be to read through and find anything out of the ordinary.
Written by kprather on Friday December 4, 2015