Know Your Rights

How to Read a Credit Report

With the start of the new year just about one month behind you, making the decision to address your credit report in 2014 is as easy as requesting a copy of your own.  Visit for a free copy of your report and keep reading to learn how to understand what is on your report.  Reading your report may seem overwhelming at first, but after a basic lesson about what is included in your report reading the information will be easier than it seems. 

First, your report will include your personal information.  When reviewing this section of your report, you want to make sure all of your information is accurate, including your full name, address, social security number, employment, etc.  Understand that variations of your personal information may exist on your report, but the current information should be accurate. 

The majority of your report is made up of account information.  In the Account Information section of your report, you will find all of the accounts you currently have as well as some of your old accounts that may no longer be active.  Each account will be broken up into categories including negative accounts, accounts in good standing and public records.  Some credit reporting agencies also have a category for collection accounts.  Under each category will be a tradeline or an individual account and information on the account.  Account information will include, the name of the creditor, the date the account was opened (and closed if the account is no longer active), the type of account, your highest balance and/or credit limit, your payment status and payment history.  When reading through each tradeline, make sure the information reported for each account is accurate, even if the account is negative, make sure the balance is accurate, the date of last payment, etc.       

Your Report will also contain a section for inquiries.  Here you will find a list of all of the companies that have reviewed your report over the last two years.  While you may be concerned about the great number of companies taking a peek at your personal information, first you need to understand that there are two types of inquiries, soft and hard.  Soft inquiries are those that are for promotional purposes or for pre-approved credit offers and these companies do not see your full report and are not included in calculating your credit score.  Hard inquiries are pulls of your report by companies with which you apply for credit or pulls by collection agencies.  Hard inquiries do affect your score and these companies will receive a complete copy of your report.      

Your report will also include a section for Public Records.  This category includes any bankruptcies you may have filed, judgments, tax liens and collection accounts.  These types of account remain on your credit file for a period of seven to ten years.  Review the information to make sure it is accurately report with correct dates so that it does not remain on your credit file for longer than necessary.   

If you are in need of assistance with your credit report contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.

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