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Reading Your Credit Report

Author: Ryann Cairns

Your credit report is one of the most important documents in your financial life. It is essential to know what is in your credit report and how it got there. Your credit report comes into play any time are planning to buy a home, buy a car, apply for a loan or even apply for a job or take out care insurance.

Many different individuals and businesses have access your credit report, including some you may not have thought of. Your credit report is accessed any time you apply for a bank account, a home mortgage loan, or a car loan. Some employers even request a copy of your credit report before they decide to hire you. As you can see, the information contained in a credit report can have a huge impact on a consumer's life.

Any inaccurate information can hurt you. You may never even know that you were turned down for a loan or even a job because of inaccurate information in your credit report. As you can see, a credit report can be vital to all aspects of your life.

The information contained in a credit report breaks down into four areas. They are:

  1. The first part of the credit report contains identifying information on the individual. This identifying information is listed at the top of the credit report. The personal information includes the name, last reported address, marital status, Social Security Number, date of birth, spouse's name, number of dependents, previous address, and employment information.
  2. The second part of the credit report shows the consumer's credit information, including their credit account numbers, the creditor's name, the amount of the last payment, the credit limit of each account, and the timeliness of the various creditor payments.
  3. The third part of the credit report contains a listing information contained in the public record. This information can include such things as tax liens, court judgements, and bankruptcies.
  4. The fourth section of the credit report is an inquiry section. This final part lists all of those creditors who have reviewed a copy of the credit report. This is a very important section to review. This is because it serves as an excellent audit trail to ensure that no unauthorized parties have accessed the consumer's credit report.

One thing a credit report does not contain is information about an individual's ethnic origin, character, sexual preference, medical history, political affiliation or religion. As you can see, a credit report is a vital document, and the information it contains should be closely guarded and regularly checked for errors.

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