Your credit report contains information that helps creditors decide whether to lend you money, and provides the basis for your credit scores. Getting your free credit report and reviewing it can give you insight into what others see when they check your credit. Lenders, landlords, employers, utilities and insurance companies may analyze information from your credit report when you submit an application or are a current customer.
What Does a Free Credit Report Tell You?
Credit Services of America can help you understand your credit reports that can contain a wealth of information about your personal and financial history. Credit reports are generally broken into several sections:
- Personal information: This could include your name, any previous names used or name variations, address, previous addresses and date of birth. It may also include places you’ve worked and phone numbers you’ve used. Personal information that you do not recognize can sometimes be an indicator of fraud.
- Credit accounts: Also called tradelines, these accounts can include credit cards, loans and lines of credit. Each account will have relevant information associated with it, such as the creditor’s name, date the account was opened, the original loan amount or credit limit, payment and balance history, and current payment status. Your closed accounts may be listed separately.
- Collection accounts: These are unpaid accounts that have either been sent or sold to collections.
- Public records: The only public record that will appear on your credit report is a bankruptcy filing.
- Hard inquiries: When a creditor checks your credit report for lending purposes or as the result of a request for certain services, a hard inquiry will appear on your report. A hard inquiry can stay on your credit report for up to two years and may have a slight, negative impact on your credit scores for a few months.
- Soft inquiries: These are often the result of preapproved offers of credit or an account review, which is when a company you already do business with does a periodic review of your credit history. They may also appear as a record of activity when you check your own credit report. Other reasons include making a prescreened credit offer, for employment purposes and for insurance purposes. Soft inquiries won’t impact your credit scores.
We work directly with each of the three major consumer credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Each bureau could have different information about you, which could result in differences in your credit reports from each bureau and any credit scores derived from those reports. Consultants at Credit Services of America can help you understand your credit situation and explain all the aspects of your credit mix.
Why Is a Credit Report Important?
Your credit history can play a big role in your overall financial health. Credit reports, and sometimes the credit scores that are calculated using the information in your credit reports, may be used by various people and organizations:
- Lenders will often request a credit report and a score based on the report when evaluating a new loan application. They may use the information to determine your eligibility and the interest rates and terms they may offer.
- An employer or landlord may review your credit report—although employers receive a modified version of the report and they never get a credit score.
- In many states, insurance companies may consider credit-based insurance scores when determining your premiums.
- Utilities and telecom companies may review your credit before turning on services, offering you a payment plan or requesting a security deposit.
We can review your credit report to better understand what’s affecting your credit scores. When we review your credit score during your free consultation, you will receive a list of the risk factors currently impacting that score, which can help you know what steps to take to improve your scores. Keeping up to date with your credit reports also allows you to look for unusual or incorrect information. For example, an account you didn’t open or an address you’ve never seen before appearing on your credit report could be a sign of identity theft. You can place a fraud alert on your reports to notify lenders that you may be a victim or freeze your credit report with each credit bureau to limit others’ access to your reports. If you spot information on your report you believe to be inaccurate, Credit Services of America can initiate a dispute with the credit bureau on whose report the information appears. Doing this before applying for a large loan, such as an auto loan or mortgage, can be especially important because you’ll want your reports to reflect the most current and complete credit information before a lender pulls your report.
Is Getting a Free Credit Report Safe?
Getting a free credit report can be a simple and safe process. In fact, there are many situations when the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to obtain a free copy of your report, including when:
- A creditor declines your application due, in part, to the information in your credit report.
- You’re unemployed and looking for work.
- You’re receiving public assistance.
- You believe you’re a victim of fraud.
Credit Services of America is licensed and bonded for our clients protection. As always, be on the lookout for scams.
Does Getting a Free Credit Report Affect Your Credit Score?
Getting a free credit report won’t affect your credit scores. A record that you checked your credit report could be added to the report as a soft inquiry. But soft inquiries don’t impact credit scores at all. While credit scores are based entirely on the information in one of your credit reports, they don’t consider every piece of data in your report. For example, your personal information, such as names and addresses, don’t impact your credit scores. Instead, credit scoring models focus on your history with credit accounts, such as whether you’ve paid bills on time, what your current balances are (particularly in relation to your credit limits) and whether you have experience with different types of accounts.