What does a credit report look like anyway? In order to understand credit, consumers must first know what a credit report looks like. At first, this lengthy document may be very confusing and nerve racking to consumers. Once consumers understand the component parts of a credit report, they will understand what a credit report looks like.
Major Information Found in a Credit Report
An annual credit report is usually delivered in either paper or electronic (PDF) format. The paper or digial copy of a credit report is broken down into text sections, which reveal basic information about a person’s open accounts, financial information, contact information, etc.
A credit report has several sections that contain certain types of information. The sections make it easy for lenders to identify a consumers’ creditworthiness, and consumers have an easier time interpreting the information on their credit reports as well. The following are the sections that consumers need to understand in order to know what a credit report looks like:
- Information Section – Lenders can easily find information such as consumers’ social security number, name, address, birth date, and employer. The credit report contains information from the past and present. For example, if there were other names that consumers may have used in the past, the information will appear in this section. Any old addresses and past employers will appear in this section. Mortgage companies usually require that employees work for their current employer for at least 2 years to receive a home loan. They can easily find this information in this section.
- Payment History – The information in this section lets lenders know if consumers are a risk for extending credit. It will show every account that is open and many that are closed. It also shows how much available credit is on each credit card and the credit limit. If payments are not made on time, lenders can easily find this information in this section. Consumers should know that some information might remain on credit reports for 15 years or more. For example, unpaid tax liens may remain for up to 15 years while charge offs can remain for up to 7 years.
- Public Record Information – Any information that can determine consumers’ creditworthiness is easily found in this section. It contains public information about foreclosures, tax liens, and bankruptcies. For example, if consumers have a dispute that ended up in small claims court, this information will show up in this section.
- Inquiries Section – This section contains information regarding credit granters who have pulled consumers’ credit. Inquiries can remain on credit reports for up to two years and too many inquires lowers the credit score.
- Bank Information – This section has information about any bank accounts that were closed for negative reasons.
- Creditor Contacts – Potential lenders can find information regarding the names and telephone numbers of all creditors who have contacted consumers.
- Summary Section – This section contains a quick snapshot of consumers’ credit information, including total accounts, open accounts, closed accounts, delinquencies, derogatory, balances, payments, public records, and inquiries.
Now that consumers know what a credit report looks like, they need to remember that each credit report may look different and that the information from each of the credit reports may vary. Every consumer needs to know what to look for in a credit report and the information contained in each one.