Credit Reports – What’s On Them, and How to Check Yours
Businesses in the United States buy more than two billion credit reports every year. Since there are currently fewer than 300 million people in the country, this means that the average adult has his or her credit reports examined by someone about once every other month. And yet, only a small percentage of Americans have ever laid eyes on their own credit reports. Viewing your credit reports at least twice a year is a necessity in today’s electronic age, and while it may not always be free, getting access to your credit reports is much easier and less expensive than it has been at almost any time in history.
What is a Credit Report?
There are three major credit bureaus in the United States. They are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These three companies are competitors, and therefore they don’t share information with one another. As a result, your Equifax credit report may be significantly different from your Experian credit report, and your TransUnion report may be different still. Sometimes this is a good thing – if only one of the credit agencies reports a bad history, for example. But more often than not, it’s a headache, since at least one of your credit reports is bound to have some incorrect, negative information on it.
What’s On Your Credit Report?
Although each of the three credit agencies record slightly different information, the following is a basic list of what you’ll find on each of your credit reports: Your name and your spouse’s name. Where you live, where you work, and where you used to live (and used to work). Your social security number, phone number, and birth date. A list of your credit accounts and when you’ve paid your bills – on time, late, late by more than 30 days, late by more than 60 days, etc. How much total credit you have available. Whether and to whom you’ve made an application for credit in the past six months. Which companies have requested and obtained your credit report. And finally, dreaded “public records” – bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions, court judgments, convictions, and tax liens.
How Long Does Information Stay On Your Credit Report?
Positive information stays on your credit report indefinitely, which is a good thing. Most negative information should be deleted after seven years, with the exception of certain types of bankruptcy, which can stay on your report for ten years. If one of your credit reports is missing positive information or contains negative information that’s older than seven years, contact the appropriate credit bureau.
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