Credit report & free credit score: What is it? How do I get it?


How to read your credit report

If you have ever tried to read your credit report, you know they can be many pages long and hard to follow and require a limitless brain to comprehend.. Regardless, understanding your credit report will make it easier for you to manage your debt and keep track of your various accounts, so learning how to read them is essential. All major credit-reporting agencies organize their reports into six basic sections that are easy to follow if you understand their purpose. Below are descriptions of the six major sections you are likely to see on your credit report.

Personal Information

Here you will find your name, address, date of birth and Social Security Number (SSN). Also listed will be any other names that have ever been associated with your SSN. It is very important that you verify the information in this section. Incorrect information could drastically hurt your credit, and may even indicate identity theft or other fraudulent activity.
Your credit, your life: Credit reporting errors happen
There are errors that can impact on your credit score without your having done anything at all and completely without your knowledge unless you check your credit report regularly.
A guide to reading your credit report
Credit reports play a large part in the financial life of consumers. Once you have your credit report, what will you see?

Credit Summary

Most credit reports include a summary that will show the number of accounts you have, the total amount of credit available to you and how much of that credit you have used. This is a good place to look if you want an estimate of your debt to credit ratio.
How often do credit bureaus update my credit report?
It is up to your creditors to report any changes to the credit bureaus so they may update your report accordingly.
Account History
This section usually makes up about 80% of your credit report. Here you will find detailed information about each account, including when it was opened and if it is in good standing. Most reports will show if you paid your bill to that creditor on time each month, going back two years. When applying for new credit, the information contained in this section will be used to determine your credit-worthiness and if you need debt help to get back on solid terms.
How to correct balances on your credit report
One of the most frustrating challenges faced by consumers is making sure that their credit reports reflect their credit card and other loan balances accurately. When inaccuracies do take place many negative consequences can result, from lower credit scores to higher interest rates.
How to dispute the errors on your credit report
Did you know that something as simple as a mistake or a misspelling of your name on a credit application could cause big problems with your credit report?
Public Information
This section will list any judgments that have been made against you in a court of law. Here you would find bankruptcy, liens, evictions, garnishments, and other orders made by the court for you to pay a creditor.
The pros and cons of freezing your credit report
We have all heard the scary stories about identity theft, and many of us are wondering what we can do to protect ourselves from this growing threat.
Whenever you apply for credit, the creditor will request your report and that request will show here. It is a good idea to keep the number of inquiries to a minimum, as a high number of them indicate a person with a high credit risk. The good news is that inquiries "fall off" your credit report after two years. Requesting your own credit report is not reflected as an inquiry.
Differences between hard and soft credit inquiries
Maintaining a good credit score is a difficult task for many consumers especially as the economy continues to circle the drain. What is the difference between hard and soft credit inquiries?
Creditor Information
For disputes on any of your accounts, you should refer to this section. Here you will find detailed contact information for each of your creditors, including address and phone number, and sometimes website information and a customer service email address.
Quick guide
How to obtain a copy of your individual free credit report
Credit reports contain information about an individual's financial background including loan history, credit card accounts, employment history, and legal situations. They provide the information that lenders use to determine the viability of providing or loaning money to people. This includes all types of loans, including mortgages, home equity, auto, and home equity lines of credit or HELOC.

Important facts included in an individual's credit report can influence the interest rate and terms that are offered with specific loans. Additionally, this information can impact the amount of the loan or money that they will be approved to borrow. The information included on credit reports can eliminate the possibility of obtaining any type of loan at all.

Each credit report, also known as a credit history, includes a credit score that reflects the type of credit a person has. The higher the credit score is, the better the individual's credit rating. Likewise, the higher the credit score is, the better the individual's chances for obtaining a loan or new credit card account.

Credit reports are compiled by agencies known as credit bureaus. Each credit bureau has its own formula for calculating a person's score. Therefore, the scores vary from one credit bureau to another.

Through the FCRA or Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers may apply for one free copy of their individual credit report from each one of the three major credit bureaus once every year. These three bureaus, Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax, operate throughout the country.

Consumers can visit the website at in order to apply for their free credit report. Additionally, various other credit bureaus will provide a copy for a small fee. Moreover, it is possible to use a credit monitoring service that will provide a copy of the report in addition to monitoring the activity on your credit accounts.
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