Credit Reports 101

Okay, so lets start off with What a Credit Report is:

Investor Words says:
A report containing detailed information on a person’s credit history, including identifying information, credit accounts and loans, bankruptcies and late payments, and recent inquiries. It can be obtained by prospective lenders with the borrower’s permission, to determine his or her creditworthiness.

Investopedia says:
A detailed report of an individual’s credit history prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender to in determining a loan applicant’s creditworthiness.

To me, a credit report is like a report card with my financial and personal information. It’s used to decide if I should financially be trusted to loan money to or approve me for credit.

Information In Credit Reports

  • Your name and all the other names you have gone by ie: Jen, Jenn, Jennifer, Jenny, Jeni
  • Your current and previous addresses
  • Current or most recent employer/s and information
  • Public records, such as Bankruptcy and tax liens
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Credit Cards and credit accounts
  • Payment history- did you make your payments on-time, go over your limit, yada yada yada
  • Dates accounts were opened/closed and your balance information, which also includes your highest balance ever
  • Inquiries- You know all that junk mail telling you that “You’re Pre-Approved”, those companies can get a peek at your credit report to base such marketing on. There are also the kind where you request credit or insurance and they need to pull your credit report to decide.

Why Should You Check Your Credit Report?

  • Identity Theft
  • Ensure there aren’t errors (this is really common)
  • To know what’s going on—if you are working on repairing credit, this is quite a handy tool.
  • Why not, everybody else is checking your credit report

My #1 Rule with Credit Reports

DON’T PAY FOR IT! You can really, truly get your credit report for free. I’m not talking about signing up for a membership and having to cancel before getting billed.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act made it so that we are able to get a FREE credit report every 12 months, from each of the 3 credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experianand TransUnion). There can be slight variations between the 3, but overall they should be about the same. is the only place to get your absolutely free credit report.

You can get your free credit report from each of the 3 credit reporting companies at once, and then wait 12 months before getting another.


Another approach that might be beneficial is getting your credit report from 1 place at a time, spaced out. Such as:

June = Equifax
October = TransUnion
February = Experian

This could help you keep a better eye on what’s going on in your credit report. Just a suggestion.

So, now that you have some basic information, why not get your free credit report and check it out.

Want more information about credit reports?

Check out the next post on credit reports: Credit Reports 201. 

Happy credit checking.

Have you checked your credit report lately?

About Jen Perkins

Likes: saving money, being debt free (aside from our house), zombies, travel, getting money, blogging and dogs. Dislikes: debt, being broke, bunnies, wasting money, not having enough money to travel the world and paying interest. Facebook  ♥  Twitter  ♥  Google+  ♥  RSS


Credit Reports 101 — 3 Comments

    • Thanks Paul, but I actually got the idea from the Annual Credit Report’s website FAQ’s. It makes a ton of sense though. :-)

  1. Credit reports are so important to lenders in today’s economy. Nobody wants to lend money to someone who doesn’t or can’t pay it back on time. Because of it’s importance, it is always a good idea to check the reports at least once a year!