It’s one thing to obtain a copy of your credit report, but another thing entirely to understand what you’re looking at. With so much data and so many numbers, it’s not always easy to sift through the clutter to gain a full overview of exactly what’s going on.
Fortunately, when you know what you’re looking for, it’s easier to make the most of your review.
With that in mind, here’s what you should look for on your credit report:
1. Identifying Information
This section is full of all the personal information that can be used to identify you. This includes:
- Date of birth
- Phone number
- Social Security number
If you see anything in this section that doesn’t match up, such as a name you’re not familiar with, immediately report it to the credit reporting agency. This is a red flag that someone has stolen your identity.
2. Credit History
This is the largest section on your credit report. It includes a variety of information that affects your credit score, such as:
- Open and paid credit accounts (such as loans, mortgages, and credit cards)
- Total loan amounts
- Late payments
- Loan balances
- Accounts that have been forwarded to collections
With so many moving parts, it’s possible that you could find an error on this part of your credit report. Review it carefully for inaccuracies, and once again, should you find something that’s wrong you need to report it immediately.
3. Public Records
While you hope that this part of your credit report is empty, that’s not always the case.
As the name suggests, this lists any public records pertaining to your financial activity. Some of the things you could see here include:
- Tax line
- Tax judgment
For example, if you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it’ll remain on your credit report for 10 years. If you filed for Chapter 13, it’ll remain here for seven years. Either way, it’s a big red mark on your credit report, but it’s nice to know that it won’t last forever.
This is a list of anyone who has requested a copy of your credit report. For example, if you recently shopped around for a car loan or mortgage, any lenders that pulled your report will show up here.
There are two different types of inquiries:
- Soft inquiries: these are from creditors who are simply checking your account, such as a lender you’re already working with.
- Hard inquiries: these are when you apply for credit, such as a credit card or loan.
Note: hard inquiries stay on your credit report for approximately two years.
Now that you know what to look for on your credit report, it’s much easier to review it with confidence.
Should everything check out, you’re good until your next review. But if you see something that doesn’t make sense, contact the appropriate credit bureau to learn more.