The ability to borrow money is a valuable privilege extended only to those who continue to demonstrate "credit worthiness." If you have recently obtained your first credit card, personal loan or auto loan, it's in your best interest to build and protect your credit rating. Here are a few things you should know.
What is a credit report?
A credit report is a summary of a person's (or business') current loan and credit card obligations, along with a history of the payments made toward those obligations. Lenders obtain credit reports on individuals and businesses as part of the credit approval process.
Who compiles credit reports?
Credit reports are compiled by credit reporting agencies or service bureaus, such as TRW Credit Data and Trans Union. Lenders subscribe to one or more of these credit reporting agencies and pay a fee for their services. In turn, lenders supply the credit bureau with information regarding the payment histories of their borrowers.
What personal information is on my credit report?
In addition to information about your loans and credit cards, credit reports typically include your current and previous addresses, your Social Security number, date of birth, present and past employers and your spouse's name (if applicable). A credit report may also include state and county public records, such as bankruptcies, tax liens and court judgments.
Who may access my credit report?
With your permission, lenders, potential employers and property management companies can obtain a credit report on you each time you apply for credit, a job or rent an apartment. Without a credit check, many companies will not hire you, rent you an apartment or extend credit to you.
Can I get a copy of my credit report?
Yes, and it's a good idea to do so annually to ensure that your credit report does not include any factual errors or inaccurate derogatory information. You can order a copy of your credit report by contacting one of the credit bureaus listed below. Please note that there may be a fee for your report.