Understanding Your Credit Report

It’s important to understand what types of information your credit report contains and how to read them. It’s even more important to understand why you should look for errors on your report and read each item very carefully. There are several key categories of information on every report and details that are positive, negative, or neutral. These categories include your account summary information, account history, credit inquiries, public records, and consumer statement. Although the organization of each report from the credit reporting companies is slightly different, once you become familiar with them in a general way, you’ll be able understand them all.

Understanding Your Personal Information

This basic section is easy to understand because it contains your personal information, including your name, address, birthday, social security number, employer, spouse information, and whether it’s a joint account report or not. Make sure everything in this section is correct.

Understanding Your Account Summary Information

Here you’ll find a summary of all of your debts and where you stand with each of them. Reading through this information will give you a quick overview of your accounts and payments. You need to compare this information with the account history section, your own records, and each of the other three credit bureau reports to make sure everything matches.

You’ll also want to understand the importance of such terms as installment accounts, revolving accounts, real-estate accounts, and collection accounts. More details are provided on this website in the section on reading your credit reports. You will also need to understand the numbers involved, which reflect dollar amounts for balances and payments pertaining to each of your accounts. If an account hasn’t been paid on time, it will have a negative impact on your credit history, which should be clearly stated. Negative words describing such accounts include “late, delinquent, past due, in arrears, adverse, outstanding, and charged off.” But the details are in the numbers.

Understanding Your Account History

Understanding your account history is the same as understanding the summary section, but in more detail. Sometimes these sections are merged. You’ll want to confirm the accuracy of everything in this section, especially anything negative you may need to dispute. See the section about reading your report for more information.

Understanding Your Credit Inquiries

Understanding credit inquiries means knowing when you might have applied for new credit, insurance, or financing. Each of these actions triggers a company to pull your credit. If any inquires don’t sound familiar, it’s a good idea to look into them and try to remove them. Having a lot of these is bad for your credit, so you might also wish to try to remove them if there are several in one year. See this website for more about credit inquiries and getting rid of them.

Understanding Your Consumer Statement

This will be a statement which you may have made to clarify an item in your report. Thus, it should be very familiar to you. If you haven’t made such a statement, there won’t be anything in this field.

Understanding Your Public Records

The public records section deals with any judgments, tax liens, bankruptcies, or other public records that pertain to you. You’re likely to be very familiar with these particulars, which will often involve court appearances, lawyers, paperwork, bureaucracy, and other headaches. As with everything in your report, make sure to double check the accuracy of all the items in this section.