How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Reports From the Major Credit Bureaus

Your credit reports contain personal information, as well as an overview of your overall credit history. Lenders and creditors report account information, such as your payment history, credit applications and credit account balances, to the three major consumer credit bureaus. All of this information may end up in your credit reports. Much of what is in your credit reports can affect whether you are approved for a credit card, mortgage, car loan or other type of loan, along with the rates you will receive. Even landlords may look at your credit when deciding whether to rent to you. Let’s look at some of the key components of your credit reports.

How to Get Your Annual Credit Reports From the Major Credit Bureaus
How to Get Your Annual Credit Reports From the Major Credit Bureaus

What is included in a Credit Report?

  • Personal identifying information: Your full name along with variations that have been used, current and past addresses, date of birth, social security numbers and its variations, and employer information
  • Accounts: Revolving credit and/or installment loans including account status, contact information, credit limits or loan amounts, recent payments, and individual or joint responsibility
  • Payment information: Monthly payment information on all accounts
  • Public records: Including bankruptcies, tax liens, and civil judgments
  • Debts: Debts owed on all accounts including mortgages, credit cards, and auto loans
  • Hard inquiries: Every time you apply for credit, a “hard inquiry” is placed on your Credit Report
  • Negative information: Including late payments, collections, settled accounts, repossession or voluntary surrender, charge offs, and other derogatory items

Why is knowing about my credit important?

Your credit reports tell a detailed story about you, with information about your financial accounts and your payment history. Those who have access to this information, including third parties with “authorized purposes,” may accept or reject your loan applications based in part on the information in your credit reports and their own lending criteria. The more you know about your financial accounts and credit history before you make a big decision like buying a house or a car, the better prepared you will be to take on the financial obligations that may result.

Continue reading on the next page to discover the precise steps for obtaining your free credit report and how to fix inaccuracies on my credit report.

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