If you’re typical, you probably don’t spend one minute a day thinking about your credit report. In fact, you may not have thought about it anytime in the past year. Well, this could be a mistake. The information in your credit report (also called your credit history) translates into your credit score and your credit score can rule your financial life.
What’s in your credit report?
Unless you’re about 12 years old and have never applied for credit of any kind, you have a credit report. It contains information supplied by every merchant or financial institution where you’ve had credit. This can even be a landlord. It includes your personal information such as name variations, your social security number, the name of your spouse (if applicable), your telephone numbers, the name of your employer, etc.
Your credit and public record information
Second, your credit report or credit history includes a list of credit accounts, the date when you opened the accounts, your payment history, any debt you currently owe and any co-signers. It will also include all public record information such as bankruptcies, judgments, state and federal tax liens and any child supports you have that are overdue.
Requests for your credit report
Your credit report will also have a list of companies or people who have requested your credit history. This might be companies where you applied for credit, prospective employers or insurance companies. It can also include companies looking for information before sending you one of those offers for a pre-approved credit card.
How your credit score is calculated
The information in your credit history is translated into a three-digit credit score using a formula created by the company, FICO. It represents your level of risk to a potential lender. If you have a high credit score you are considered to be less of a risk. Conversely, if you have a low score, you are seen as more of a risk. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Your score is fluid in that it can vary as your credit history changes. While the three credit reporting bureaus base their credit scores on the FICO algorithm, all three have their own proprietary formulas for calculating their credit scores so that you can actually have three different scores.
How to get your credit reports free
The three credit reporting bureaus – Trans Union, Experian and Equifax – are required by law to give you your credit report free once a year. You can get all three simultaneously at the website www.annualcreditreport.com. However, many people choose to get their reports one at a time – every four months – so they are basically monitoring their credit history the year around.
How to get your credit score
Unfortunately, none of these credit reports will include your credit score. It is generated and added to your score only when there is a request for your credit history. If you want to see your credit score, which is a very good idea, you can go to the site www.myfico.com and get it free if you’re willing to sign up for a two-week trial of its Score Watch product. Otherwise, you can buy it for $19.95.
If you have a low score
If you find you have a credit score of 500 or less, it’s undoubtedly because of your debts and how you’ve managed them. We’ve spent the last decade helping people who are in serious trouble with their debts. Our debt counselors can negotiate settlements with your creditors and probably save you thousands of dollars. If you owe $7,500 or more and have been unable to make even the minimum monthly payments for the past several months, we can probably help. Call our toll-free number today and let us explain how debt settlement works and what we could do to help you become debt free.