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Home > FAQ > Credit Reports FAQ Mar 25, 2017

About credit reports

1) What is a credit report?
2) Who can request a copy of my credit report?
3) What information appears on my credit report?
4) How long does information stay on credit reports?
5) What happens to listed items after seven years?
6) How often are credit reports updated?
7) Do lenders and creditors pull all three reports?
8) Can I get copies of my credit reports for free?

1) What is a credit report? [top]

A credit report is a record of the information in your credit file that is used by a prospective lender, employer, or others to help evaluate you when you apply for a loan, job or in other circumstances. Credit reports chronicle the credit payment history of a prospective borrower. A company that collects and sells this information to creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses is called a consumer reporting agency (CRA). Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the three largest CRAs in the United States.

2) Who can request a copy of my credit report? [top]

Only people with a legitimate business need can access your credit report, as recognized by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). For example, a company is allowed to get your report if you apply for a credit card, loan, insurance, employment, or to rent an apartment. Moreover, creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses cannot get a report about you that contains medical information without your approval.

3) What information appears on a credit report? [top]

All credit reports contain essentially the same four categories of information: identifying information including your name, past and present addresses, Social Security number, date of birth, and employment information; trade lines on your credit accounts including types of accounts (bankcard, auto loan, mortgage, etc.), dates accounts were opened, credit limits or loan amounts, account balances and your payment history; inquiries, both voluntary and involuntary, for loans listing everyone who has accessed your credit report within the last two years; public record and collection items from state and country courts which includes bankruptcies, foreclosures, suits, wage attachments, liens, judgments, as well as information on overdue debt from collection agencies.

4) How long does information stay on credit reports? [top]

Generally speaking, information can remain on your credit report for seven years from the date of last activity. Some exceptions apply: bankruptcies may be reported for 10 years; criminal convictions can be reported without a time limitation; information reported for a job application with a salary exceeding $75,000 has no time limit, nor does information on an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance; and information about a lawsuit or unpaid judgment can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer.

5) What happens to listed items after seven years? [top]

Most derogatory items such as late payments, collection accounts and charge-offs "fall" off seven years from their date of last activity. Certain items such as bankruptcies can be reported for up to 10 years. Others items including unpaid tax liens, student loans, and child support obligations have no statute of limitations and will typically show for seven to ten years from the date they are paid, or the date of their legal disposition. Positive credit items can be shown indefinitely.

6) How often are credit reports updated? [top]

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion officially update credit reports four times a year. However, most banks and other financial institutions report account status to the consumer reporting agencies on a monthly basis, so your credit report is, in practice, updated every month.

7) Do lenders and creditors pull all three reports? [top]

Not necessarily. Most mortgage lenders pull credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies, while other lenders will use just one agency's report and one credit score.

8) Can I get copies of my credit reports for free? [top]

Yes, in two ways. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you are entitled to a free credit report within 60 days of being denied credit, employment, insurance, or rental housing based on information in your report. Additionally, as of September 2005 consumers in all U.S. states and territories are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three consumer reporting agencies. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for more information.




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Copyright © 2001-2008 Credit Attorney, P.C.&trade (Dana Facemyer, admitted in Utah) and Credit Attorney California™ (Adam Fullman, admitted in California). All rights reserved. The services of Credit Attorney, P.C. and Credit Attorney California may not be available in all states. Credit Attorney, P.C. and Credit Attorney California collectively may be known as "Credit Attorney," "we," "us," or "the firms."
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