This is part 2 of a 5 part series
Part 1 – Credit Reporting Agencies
Part 2 – What’s in Your Credit History?
Part 3 – Correcting Credit Report Errors
Part 4 – Rebuilding Your Credit
Part 5 – Quick Fix Methods & Other Tales From the Crypt
What’s in Your Credit History?
Would you rather have a ticket to be in the studio audience for the last Sienfeld show or a copy of your credit report?
Before you answer that let me tell you what’s in that little report. Besides the basic stuff you would expect it also contains (no big surprise here) your credit history. But what’s in that credit history may be a surprise.
- Payment history on accounts that were reported to the credit reporting agency.
- Name of the creditor and account/loan number.
- Nature of the account (joint or individual)
- Type of account/loan (revolving or installment, student loan, mortgage etc.)
- Date account was opened or loan was established.
- Credit limit on account/loan amount.
- Current balance on account/loan. The dollar amount shown in this section of a person’s report reflects the account balance at the time the information was obtained. It does not reflect what has been paid on the account or charged on the account since that time.
- Account payment history, including number of late payment and whether an account has been referred to collections or has been closed by the consumer or the creditor.
- Date information on the account loan was reported.
- Number of months for which information has been reported.
- Amount of credit that has been extended to a consumer.
- Whether the consumer is disputing information related to an account.
It may not be as entertaining as Seinfeld but it’s a heck of a lot more important to you. Besides, the last show wasn’t that funny, except for the “Soup Nazi” of course.
Your credit report also contains an inquiry section listing all those creditors and others who have checked it. Some of the inquiries listed will be preceded by such abbreviations as AM, AR, and PRM. PRM indicates that the inquiry was made for promotional purposes such as a review or screening for a pre-approved credit card offer and such. AM stands for account monitoring and AR stands for account reviews, both of which mean that one of your creditors reviewed the info, perhaps to determine whether your line of credit should be increased or to cancel your credit card. This is an important section because lenders consider the number of credit-related inquiries to be an indicator of how much credit you are trying to obtain. They may conclude that you will not be a responsible user of credit if they see a lot of inquiries. Every time you apply for a credit card, a mortgage loan, a car loan or some other type of credit your credit record is likely to reflect it so use great discretion.
Public Record Information
This section of your credit report reflects credit-related events that are found in the public record, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, judgements and tax liens. They also sometimes make note of convictions (And you thought nobody would find out about that little incident back in college.) And recently some states have begun to report child support delinquencies as well.
What your credit file says about you
Almost everyone with a few exceptions is surprised to find out what is and isn’t in their report and how incomplete they usually are. There is also a different picture in each of the Big Three that has a credit file on you. Some credit-offering companies tend not to report regularly to credit bureaus, small department stores, auto dealers, mortgage companies, utility companies and medical providers fall into this group. The ones that do tend to report regularly are bankcards, large department stores and federally guaranteed student loans.