If you plan on applying for a mortgage, car loan or other type of commercial financing, your credit score is important. Potential lenders use your credit report to evaluate your reliability as a borrower and determine the terms of your loan. While your credit report provides important information about how you manage debt, it does not reveal all of your personal or financial details. For a better understanding of why credit reports are necessary as well as what is and what isn't included in them, take a look at the guide below.
What's a credit report?
You can think of a credit report as your financial résumé. It documents your credit account history, along with other information that's relevant to potential lenders and other businesses. A mortgage company, for example, will review your credit report to determine your creditworthiness and decide whether to approve your loan request, and if so, at what rates.
There are 3 major credit bureaus in the United States: Experian™, TransUnion® and Equifax®. While each bureau collects the same type of information, they use slightly different methods for rating credit data. For this reason, it's important to check all 3 reports, as some information may be reported differently among them.
Who can check my credit report?
Your credit report can be pulled by people and agencies that have an interest in how you manage your credit. In addition to mortgage lenders, banks and credit card companies, prospective landlords and employers may access your report to determine if you'd make a reliable tenant or employee. Your credit report can also be reviewed by insurance agencies, mobile phone providers and other organizations.
What's not included on my credit report?
Given the above, you may be under the impression that your credit report is a comprehensive summary of your life and personal information. However, that is not the case. Here are 6 things that are not shown on a credit report:
- Your race, gender or nationality
- Your religious or political affiliations
- Your marital status
- Your occupation, income or bank account balances
- Your medical records
- Criminal records
So what does my credit report show?
Most credit reports include the following information:
In addition to your name, date of birth and social security number, your current address and any addresses that you have used to receive mail will be on your report. Your employers may also appear if you've included them on applications for loans or credit.
This list will feature revolving credit accounts such as credit cards and other lines of credit, as well as installment loans like mortgages or auto loans. It will include all creditor names and account numbers, the balances and credit limits on each account, their payment history and if any accounts are past due.
Any unpaid debts that have been sent to a collection agency — regardless of the amount — will appear on your credit report.
Recent hard credit inquiries, also known as hard credit checks
Lenders, creditors and other organizations that have viewed your credit report will be listed, along with the date the request was made.
Accounts that were closed in good standing typically remain on your credit report for 10 years. Negative closed accounts will typically drop off after seven years thanks to credit reporting limits.
If your house goes into foreclosure or you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the transactions will appear on your credit report for 7 years. If you file for Chapter 7, you'll have to wait 10 years for the negative entry to drop off.
How do I get my credit report?
Under federal law, you're entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau once a year. Additional reports can be ordered for a fee. You can request all 3 at once by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228.
How do I monitor my credit score?
It's important to regularly monitor your credit health and the information that's found in your report. Catching and fixing mistakes on your credit report early can help you protect yourself before it escalates. It's recommended that you check your credit report at least once a year to track your credit journey and correct any discrepancies in a timely manner.
You can use our Chase Credit Journey® to help you manage, monitor and protect your credit. You don't need to be a Chase customer to get started.