If you’ve ever applied for a loan or credit card, a credit check has been an integral part of the approval process for the lender. Your credit report is used to determine whether or not they are willing to do business with you. This is why many consumers cringe when they hear the words “credit report.”
A credit report can help or hurt you, depending on how well you’ve managed credit in the past. If you’ve had little or no credit, lenders won’t have much to go on, so you may not be approved. If you’ve gotten behind on payments or run up more debt than you could handle in the past, lenders may determine that you’re too risky to work with. But if you’ve kept your debt manageable and made your payments on time, you shouldn’t have much trouble borrowing money.
Credit reports contain extensive information regarding your credit history. Here is what you will find on your report:
Your name and address history – Your creditors inform the credit bureaus of changes in your name and address. This information should be up to date if you have open accounts, but otherwise it might not be.
Your Social Security Number – This is used to track your credit information and make sure that it is included in the correct report.
The names of your creditors, account numbers and account types – This indicates who you borrowed from and the nature of each account. Common types include installment loan, revolving credit, auto loan and home loan.
The dates your accounts were opened – If you have closed accounts, the date closed will be shown as well.
Your credit limit or high credit and balance – A credit limit is shown for credit cards and lines of credit. For loans, the highest balance is shown. The current balance is also included.
The amount past due on each account – If you are behind, the creditor will report how much you need to pay to make your payments current.
Number and length of delinquencies – Each time you are late with a payment, your creditor reports it. Delinquencies are broken down into three groups: 30-60 days late, 60-90 days late, and over 90 days late. Visit Credit Card Watch to see what can happen at Chase if you miss a credit card payment.
Accounts in collections – If a creditor has turned your account over to a collections agency due to non-payment, this will be noted on your credit report.
Credit inquiries – When a lender checks your credit, the credit bureau makes a note in your file. Inquiries remain on your report for 90 days.
Public records – If you’ve had a judgment filed against you or filed for bankruptcy, the credit bureau will learn about it through public records and display it on your credit report.
All this information plays an important role in a lender’s determination of your creditworthiness, but it’s not the whole story. Lenders also look at a number of other factors, including income, employment history and debt-to-income ratio. Keeping your credit report in good shape is very important, but even a perfect credit score doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to borrow all the money you want.
Tags: borrowing advice, credit report, Credit Score, credit scoring