Credit Education 101
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Credit Report 101

By Janet Lacey
Published: Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Your credit report is one of the most important financial documents existing today and any future credit, mortgage, or even your job can depend upon your current credit report. In such a scenario, it is important to check your credit report at least once every year in order to know about your standing in the credit market. If you are getting down to reading your credit report for the first time, then you might find understanding it a little confusing.

A breakdown of all the information that you will find in your credit report is as follows:

  • Personal Information: This includes your name (and its variants), past and present addresses, date of birth, social security number and your employment information. Ensure that your personal information is correct and identifying you and not someone else.
  • Credit Summary Or Accounts Summary: This summarizes information about all your different credit accounts and lists the total number of credit accounts, balance, number of current and delinquent accounts under the following heads: real estate(mortgage payments, home refinancing, equity loans etc), revolving(credit cards and lines of credit), installment( car loans, unsecured home loans etc) ,other and collection accounts. With a summary of the number of accounts you have opened or closed, public records and inquiries, the credit summary gives you a concise picture of your current credit situation.
  • Accounts in Good Standing: All three credit bureaus TransUnion, Equifax and Experian make it easy for you to check your good credit versus bad credit by providing a summary of Satisfactory Accounts or Accounts With Good Credit. This section includes all the accounts where your payments are current and there are no defaults.
  • Account History: The account history section forms the major bulk of your credit report, with detailed information about each credit account being provided. Important things to check are the balance, the past due amount, payment status and payment history of each account. In case you find discrepancies, get them corrected ASAP. Your payment history is listed at the bottom of the page with the numbers 30, 60, 90 and 120 written below. Late pays are also marked in red and orange. A good report should have all green in the little squares or OK written underneath.
  • Public Records: This section includes major financial errors recorded in public records like bankruptcies, tax liens, judgments, court records, and in some cases, overdue child support. This section is critical to your credit worthiness since public records stay on your report for 7 to 10 years and are taken seriously by all credit agencies.
  • Credit Inquiries: This section lists requests from all those organizations that have accessed your credit report within the past two years. It will include both involuntary and voluntary inquiries.
  • Other Negative Items: Other negative items that make it to your credit report are delinquency information, information about late payments and overdue debts collected from creditors, public records and courts.

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