What Goes into Your Credit Report?
Your credit history is an ongoing record of information detailing which credit cards or loans you have opened and/or closed over time, whether or not you have been late with any payments, and more. All of this information is available in a document called a credit report. What exactly goes into your credit report?
First, your personal information°™including your name, Social Security Number (SSN), birth date and current and past addresses°™is listed. Current and former places of employment are sometimes included, along with any important "alerts" including whether or not you have been the victim of identity theft and if you are currently serving in active duty in the military.
Your report also includes a comprehensive listing of all trade lines°™loans, credit cards, mortgages and other outstanding debt currently open in your name. Any credit cards or loans you have closed or already paid off (called inactive accounts) will remain on your credit report for seven to ten years. Your bank account information (savings and checking account balances, for instance), is not included; however, if you have overdrawn your bank account it can be noted in your credit report.
Each open loan or credit card is listed, along with the amount of money you owe on each. Other information including outstanding balances, monthly payment amounts, and credit limits are also included, along with the name of each lender and the account numbers for each loan.
Late payments are recorded in your report in the past-due column, along with what is called your account status°™i.e., whether your account is in good standing or has been reported to a collection agency for late or non-payment.
Based on your credit history, you are given a score. This score, in effect, determines the degree of your credit worthiness. It tells a bank or lender what the risks are if they offer credit to a consumer. For example, if your credit history demonstrates a lengthy on-time bill payment history and low outstanding non-mortgage debt, your strong score will allow you to get a loan with a great interest rate to buy that new car you've had your eye on. A poor score may result in an outright credit denial, or the loan for that very same car may come with an extremely high interest rate.
You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually
, and can access your report anytime thereafter for a small fee. These are called "administrative inquiries" and do not affect your credit report or overall credit score. However, anytime a lender or other entity "pulls," or requests a copy of, your credit report, it is noted and recorded in your report for one year. Too many inquiries over a 12-month period can negatively impact your report, possibly indicating to other potential lenders that you may be applying for too many credit cards or loans and could become financially over-extended.
Matters of Public Record
Official information regarding any liens currently open against you (for late or non-payment on your taxes), bankruptcies you may have declared in the past 10 years, lawsuits or legal judgments filed against you, or any child support requirements, are also included in your credit report. This information can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
What is Not In Your Report?
Your credit report includes lots of information on your accounts, loans, etc., but it does not include what is sometimes referred to as your credit score. Your credit score is calculated based on the information included in your credit report but it is not a part of the actual report itself.
Your credit report also does not include information on your race, gender, ethnicity, religion, marital status, medical or criminal history, or political affiliation.