Your credit score seems to control a great deal of your life – including things like whether you can rent an apartment, get a car or even secure certain jobs.
Understanding how credit reporting agencies function, and what your credit report entails can help you better respond to problems that could ultimately affect your financial health.
Creditors tend to use three major credit reporting agencies when they’re making decisions. These include:
All three agencies provide businesses and other interested parties with an overview of someone’s credit and a credit “score” that indicates that person’s overall creditworthiness. The higher the score, the better.
What does a credit report include?
Aside from your personal information (like your address, Social Security Number and date of birth), each credit report generally includes information about all your credit accounts, including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans and personal loans. It provides details such as the account type, creditor name, account number, credit limit or loan amount, payment history and account status.
What else should you know?
Credit reports – and the credit score you’re given – can vary greatly between these three agencies, depending on which creditors reported to which agency. While some creditors may use an aggregate score that averages all three reports, most only use one report and one score. That can prove problematic if there are serious errors on the chosen report.
You can combat mistakes on your credit report by making use of consumer protection laws that give you the right to a free annual credit report from each of these main bureaus. You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com each year and obtain a printout of your credit history. Once you have all three reports, review them for inaccuracies and file disputes on any you find.
If your credit has been damaged by inaccurate credit reports or unfair debt collection practices, it may be time to find out more about your legal options.