Understand Your Credit Report

 

When you receive your free credit report, do the following:

 

Personal Identification Information:  Review the information and verify your name, address, social security and date of birth.  Pay meticulous attention to these details.  A small mistake in this information can have a significant impact on your credit file - for example, if you name is misspelled or if your middle initial is incorrect.  

 

Public Record Information:  This where you will find any information such as liens, bankruptcies, foreclosures and judgments against your credit.  Review the information to ensure that there is nothing surprising.  If anything looks like it should not be there – this is a potential “red flag”.  Investigate and determine, if this is identity theft

 

Collection Agency Account Information:  Any accounts that have gone to collections, will be listed here along with information such as the name of the collection agency, the account number, date the account was opened and the past due balance.  Once again, there should not be any surprises.

 

Credit Account Information:  This is the list of all your credit accounts including a summary of your previous credit history.  Review the accounts, date opened, balances, last activity date and status.  Investigate anything that does not look familiar.  This is usually where identify theft cases are identified. 

 

Inquires:  This section discloses any inquiries that have been made against your credit file.  They can range from inquiries as a result of a credit card application, “pre-approval”, potential employer inquiry, mortgage loan, home equity line of credit, etc.

 

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a Consumer Reporting Agency must investigate any errors that you report to them and provide feedback within 30 days.  If they do not follow with you – you should follow up with them.  It is YOUR credit.

 

NEXT: Dispute Credit Report Errors