A credit report contains information about your credit. The report contains bill repayment history, the status of your credit accounts, and the age and status of your credit accounts. This information includes how often you make your payments on time, how much credit you have, how much credit you have available, how much credit you are using, and whether a debt or bill collector is collecting on money you owe. Credit reports also can contain rental repayment information if you are a property renter. It also can contain public records such as liens, judgments, and bankruptcies that provide insight into your financial status and obligations.
Lenders use these reports to help them decide if they will loan you money, what interest rates they will offer you, or to determine whether you continue to meet the terms of the account. Other kinds of companies can purchase reports to help inform them while making a wide range of business decisions such as providing or pricing insurance; renting you a residential property; providing you with cable TV, internet, utility, or telecommunication services; and (if you agree to let them look at your consumer report) making employment decisions about you.
Based on the information in your credit report, lenders calculate your credit score so they can assess the risk you pose to them before they decide whether they will give you credit. The higher your score, the less risk you pose to creditors.
The most popular type of score is called a FICO score. FICO stands for the Fair, Isaac and Company score. Your score is based on a computer model that translates information in your credit report into a number. The score can range anywhere from 300-850. Aiming for a score in the 700s will put you in good standing. A high score, for example, makes it easier for you to obtain a loan, rent an apartment, or lower your insurance rate. What is the purpose of a score? It helps creditors supposedly predict how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make payments when due. About 75% of lenders use your FICO score.
780-850: Low Risk
740-780: Medium-Low Risk
690-740: Medium Risk
620-690: Medium-High Risk
620 and below: High Risk or “Sub-Prime”
Factors in a FICO Credit Score
Some factors include:
- Payment History (~35%)
- Ratio of Credit Used to Credit Available (~30%)
- Length of Credit History (~15%)
- New Credit Inquiries/Accounts (~10%)
- “Mixture” of Credit (~10%)
You can get a copy of your FICO score for a fee. Free credit reports do not contain your credit score, although you can purchase it when you request your free annual credit report.
Free Credit Reports
You can request a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). To order your free report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Consumer Reporting Agencies
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or http://www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or http://www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-877-322-8228 or http://www.transunion.com
Specialty Consumer Reports
Did you know that there are other consumer reports that you are entitled to obtain for free? There are companies that collect information about your medical, insurance, rental/tenant and alternative credit histories. You have the right to a free annual report from each specialty consumer reporting agencies. You must contact them individually to receive a copy.
For a list of specialty consumer agencies, visit http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201207_cfpb_list_consumer-reporting-agencies.pdf and http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs6b-SpecReports.htm
Derogatory credit information can become actionable under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when the information reported or listed is inaccurate. The FCRA requires Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to follow “reasonable procedures for maximum possible accuracy.” Despite these procedures, credit reports may contain many inaccuracies. the FCRA allows for “actual damages,” which includes economic damages from credit denials and higher interest rates, as well as non-economic damages of stress, loss of time and opportunity, harm to one’s reputation, and the like. The FCRA also allows for punitive damages for “willful” violations, defined to be “knowingly and intentionally committed acts in a conscious disregard for the rights of others.” In addition, you may be entitled to your attorney’s fees and costs.
If you are experiencing inaccuracies in your credit report(s) please contact us. We may be able to help.