Since the first charge card was launched in 1949 by Diners Club. Fifty nine years later, people have become consummate consumers; making more than $2 trillion in transactions each year. Increasingly, Americans are using credit cards more than cash. As credit card use has increased, so have the complexities of these credit instruments. Herein, it is important to monitor and understand your credit report.Many consumers are aware of the existence of credit reports but have rarely read it. People are more familiar with the meaning of terms such as, credit score and credit history. Your credit history is reflected in your credit report and it is this information that is used by credit bureaus to determine your credit score. The most common score is known as the FICO score, developed by the Fair Isaac & Co. This credit score reflects your personal creditworthiness and the likelihood of you paying your bills. FICO scores have a range, starting from a low of 300 (maximum risk) points to a high of 850 points (lowest risk). Your credit score is a critical factor in approving or declining credit, auto loans, home loans, and other loan applications. Additionally, whenever a credit check is performed, your credit score is accessed. A credit check is used not only by creditors/lenders but other entities including potential employers. Thus, it becomes even more important to understand your credit report. Credit Report ContentA credit report can be accessed through three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. These credit reporting agencies have to provide you with a credit report once every 12 months. Americans by law, can access their credit report annually, for free. It is simple and easy to obtain your credit score, which is crucial to your financial success. Any old inaccurate information on your credit report can create issues with prospective employers, creditors, loan qualifications, and more. There are two main ways to access your credit report:
You can call (877) 322-8228.You can log onto AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free report.Once you have obtained your credit report, it is time to evaluate it. Lets review the most common credit report, the Equifax report and its sections:1st section: Contains personal data, such as previous and current addresses, history, and social security number. 2nd section: Offers a summary of your credit history. It comprises of a number of accounts (both open and closed) held by you, various types of accounts (revolving, mortgage, installment, or etc.), number of accounts that are past due, number of credit checks in the last 12 months, and number of accounts in good standing. 3 rd section: Includes detailed account information such as name, account types, date opened, account numbers, account balance, and account status on record. It contains a detailed account of your payment history, date of last activity and the credit issuers contact information. Additionally, includes a summary of past-due accounts and negative credit history. If you find information that is inaccurate, you can challenge it. Under federal guidelines, the credit reporting agency must respond by 30 days of your appeal. If your appeal is successful, the inaccurate information will be removed from your credit report.4th section: Reflects credit inquiries into your credit history. The credit agencies classify inquiries as “hard” or “soft”. Hard inquiries occur when you authorize a company to access your credit report. Excessive hard inquiries can negatively impact your credit score. Soft inquiries are created by your existing creditors checking on your credit status, credit card companies appraising your credit record to see if extending an unsolicited offer is viable and you checking your own credit history. 5th section: Contains particulars about delinquent or collection accounts. 6th section: Includes information about wage garnishments, liens, or other judgments that appear against you in county, state, or federal court records.7th section: Details how to dispute any of the information on your credit report. You should check your credit report once every twelve months. This is the only way to stay vigilant about your credit history and protecting your identity. Prevention is the best method to avoiding future issues like credit card debt and bad credit repair.