Ask Oportun: What do I need to know about credit reports?

Your credit report is a record of your financial history and is used to calculate your credit score. Whether you realize it or not, credit bureaus start creating a report on you as soon as you have bills under your name.

A large portion of your report is based on your loan and credit card payments. But any bills you pay, including things like rent and utilities, are also fair game. Same goes for public records—like the parking ticket you forgot to pay that got sent to collections.

Knowing what’s on your credit report can help you figure out how to improve your credit score—and that’s key to better rates and offers.

Keep an eye out for errors

Checking your credit report is simple and free. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are required to give you your credit report when you ask for it, once every 12 months. You can get your free copies at AnnualCreditReport.com. When you look at your report, make sure all the information is up-to-date and correct.

And look carefully. Credit reports aren’t always perfect. About 20% of Americans have an error on their report. If there’s an error on your report that you don’t know about, it can be a real shock when you don’t get approved for something. But if you know an error is there, you can get it resolved by contacting the credit bureaus.

What’s included in my credit report?

Because there’s a lot more to look through than you might expect, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put together this list to help you sort through it all.

Your personal information:

  • Full name (and any other names you’ve used in the past)
  • Current and former addresses
  • Birth date
  • Social Security number
  • Phone numbers

Your credit accounts:

  • Current and past credit accounts
  • Types of accounts (such as installment loans, auto loans, student loans, mortgage, revolving credit, etc.)
  • Credit limit or amount
  • Account balance
  • Payment history
  • When an account was opened or closed
  • The names of the creditors

Accounts in collection:

  • Outstanding debts that were sent to collections

Any public records:

  • Liens
  • Foreclosures
  • Bankruptcies

Credit inquiries:

  • Companies that accessed your credit report (prospective lenders, employers, and your own request for an annual report)

When you know what to expect and what to look out for on your credit report, you can better understand how to improve your credit. Always check to make sure everything is accurate, up to date, and error free.

 

The information in this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only.

Ask Oportun: What is a credit score?

A credit score is a three digit number from 300 to 850 that banks use to help figure out how likely you are to make payments on time. The higher the number, the better your score.

When people think of credit scores, they normally think about borrowing money or opening credit cards. You might not realize is that it’s not just banks checking your credit. Property managers, insurance companies, and employers might be checking your credit score to gauge your financial responsibility. Your credit score impacts a lot more than you may think.

Why is your credit score important?

The better your score, the more likely you are to get approved for things like credit cards, loans, housing, insurance, and more. A higher score also usually means better terms and interest rates. It can also lead to added benefits, like not needing to put down a deposit or provide collateral for certain things.

For example, your local gas and electric company many ask you to put down a small deposit if you have a short credit history or lower credit score. Deposits like this help assure companies that you’ll pay your bills on time. With a longer credit history and a better score, you might not have to put money down to open an account.

Did you know?
Your credit history is the record of all your accounts and payments used to create your credit report.

What goes into your credit score?

A lot goes into calculating your credit score, but it doesn’t have to be confusing. There are five things that influence your FICO® score:

  1. Payment history: Have you made all your payments (not just on your credit cards) in full and on time
  2. Amounts owed: How much you owe on all lines of credit
  3. Length of credit history: How long you’ve been building credit
  4. Credit mix: What types of credit do you have and how do you manage each type
  5. New credit: How many new accounts and recent credit checks you have

Important to know…

You might have several credit scores—and they probably aren’t the same. Seems confusing, but there are several credit bureaus and each one has its own way of calculating credit scores. They each use information from different sources. So you’ll usually see variations among your scores.

 

The information on this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only.