Reading Your Credit Report

You know you have a credit report, but whom, besides you views it, what do they see, and do you know how to read it? Lendors, employers, landlords, and insurance companies, may access your credit report. Lendors view your credit report to determine the level of risk for repayment you present in their credit decisions. While not actually viewing your credit report, some lendors will ask credit reporting agencies to review credit reports, using specific parameters, to make pre-approved credit offers to those who meet their criteria. Landlords; too, often view your credit report as an indicator of how you maintain your financial obligations. Employers may view your credit report to determine any patterns in how you handle your responsibilities and obligations. Insurance companies often determine rates and offers of coverage by viewing your credit report. (They consider maintenance of your financial obligations as an indicator of the likelihood of insurance fraud.) So what exactly do they see?
At the top of a credit report is the FICO score; aka Beacon, Empirica, Experian/Fair, Isaac Risk Model. The top four reasons for the level of the score are also listed. (More on credit scores next time). You will find a notation of when your social security number was issued and the state it was issued.

Example of FICO listing:

Directly beneath the FICO score is notation of various demographics. The demographic information includes your legal name (as well as AKA’s), when you first obtained credit, an address history, your date of birth, and social security number.

Example of demographics:

The summary of your credit record notes when credit was first established to most recent credit, whether your report listed prior public records or collections, the number of credit accounts, the total of credit available and a delinquency history summary.

Example of summary section:

The next section lists collection items and public records, including judgments, liens or bankruptcies filed.

Example of Collection:

Individual credit accounts listed next, are divided into three sections: R - Revolving, O - Open, and I - Installment. Revolving accounts are ordinarily listed first, which includes credit cards with a revolving repayment plan (payment adjusts as a percentage of the current balance). Open accounts, such as cell phones and utilities are listed second, while Installment accounts, with set monthly payments, are listed last. These individual account records include the name of the lendor, credit status, date reported, date opened, credit limit, hi-credit, term, balance, payment, last activity, two year payment history and maximum delinquency.

Example of individual account record:

A two year listing of inquiries is found at the end of the report. Inquiries occur each time a company accesses your credit report information. Each company listed on the credit report is noted in the inquiry section and listed by name, address, and telephone number. Reading your credit report is not as difficult as you may initially think. It takes a little knowledge, understanding and some practice. If you have difficulty obtaining a copy or reading your credit report please contact Credit Advisors Foundation for assistance. It’s up to you to become a credit report expert.

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