How to read and understand your credit report
Getting a credit report can be easy, but understanding the data reported can be a tad difficult, especially if you’ve never had to read a credit report before. Each credit bureau organizes its reports slightly differently, so the sections may fall in a different order, but all of your reports should share the same basic parts. Let’s talk about each section and how to read it and understand it:
Your personal information will include the names you’ve used currently and past, current and previous addresses and phone numbers, Social Security number (partially hidden for security purposes), birthdate, and current and previous employers.
This is an important section to examine closely. Double-check to make sure all of the names in this section are yours. Be sure that all addresses and accounts are those you recognize. If not, that may suggest someone has used your personal information to open fraudulent accounts in your name. Be aware of your information.
Spot an error? See the links for error reporting at the end of this post.
Inquiries on your credit
This portion of your score lists the times when a company or person has checked your credit. You’ll see inquiries from when you applied for a new loan, car loan, new credit or limit increase, as well as things like housing or utility applications.
There are two different types of inquiries you’ll find in this section -hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Hard inquiries happen when you allow a potential creditor to check your credit score. Soft inquiries, which don’t affect your credit scores, happen when you check your own credit or a third-party is authorized by you to make a soft inquiry.
Both types of pulls will include the name and address of the organization who pulled your credit. Make sure that all hard inquiries were authorized by you and that they fall off your report after two years. If you’ve noticed that a hard inquiry has remained on your score for more than two years, you can hire a legitimate credit-repair focused law firm or agency to help remove them from your score. You can also do this yourself, using the links at the end of this post.
This section is the meat and potatoes of your credit report that lists all of your accounts that are not in collections or default. Check to make sure you recognize all of the names and addresses of each creditor and the date it was opened, the status of each account (make sure if it’s a closed account, that it is listed as closed), the type of account (credit cards, car loan, etc.) and your credit limit on each loan. Also, be sure to check that your credit history doesn’t show any errors.
For example, if your report says that you made a late payment and you did not, you’ll need to report that to the credit bureaus. If you see any inaccuracies that may be negatively affecting your scores, prepare your evidence to back up your claim and contact the bureau showing the error. You can learn how to dispute your credit reports below:
If you’re doing this yourself, unfortunately there is no one place to file the dispute. You’ll need to file with each of the credit bureaus.
If you view your report and realize you’re juggling too many credit card bills, especially ones with variable interest rates, a loan from LendingPoint can help consolidate debt. Having only one consistent, affordable monthly payment is far easier to manage, and an installment loan weighs less against your credit score than revolving debt. See what we can do for you. Our application process is simple and quick, and once approved you could have funds deposited in your account in as little as one business day.