This includes credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, real estate, installment loans and revolving debt like department store cards. The report will include information on the accounts such as the balance, payment history, terms, and account status such as whether the account was put into bankruptcy, charged off, or repossessed.
Collections are accounts that are seriously past due and have been transferred to a collection agency or creditor's internal collection department. Collections can appear to be paid and unpaid (and yes, this makes a difference when disputing…more on this later). Any type of collection, whether it is paid or unpaid, is negative.
One thing you may encounter is multiple listings on credit reports for the same debt. This happens as the debt collection agencies sell the debt to other agencies. As debt is transferred between different agencies, there may be several records on the credit report for the same debt. Only one record should be marked as open at a time on the credit report.
The public information section of the credit report includes publicly available information about legal matters affecting your credit. This could include judgments in civil actions, state or federal tax liens, and bankruptcies. All court records, including satisfactions, are considered negative by all credit grantors. Because some public record information is accessible only by visiting courthouses and other government buildings in person, the credit bureaus have to send people to the courthouse to gather the records.
Every time credit is applied for, a credit report is pulled. The inquiry section of a credit report includes records of businesses that have checked your credit in the last two years. When creditors and lenders review your credit data for the purpose of an application, a hard inquiry is listed on the credit report. Too many hard inquiries can harm a credit score. The reason being is that credit grantors get nervous that they are not managing credit “responsibly.”
What's Not Included In Your Credit Report?
Contrary to popular belief, your credit report does not contain information about your checking or savings accounts, your race, religion, gender, political affiliation, or personal lifestyle. Your credit report also does not contain medical history or criminal records.
However, your credit report is only one type of consumer report. As we've seen, there are specialized consumer reporting agencies that DO collect, maintain, and report some of this information. In addition, there are companies that provide what the FCRA calls an “investigative consumer report” which it defines as:
A consumer report or portion thereof in which information on a consumer's character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living is obtained through personal interviews with neighbors, friends, or associates of the consumer reported on or with others with whom he is acquainted or who may have knowledge concerning any such items of information.
Fortunately, the FCRA requires that these companies notify you if they prepare an investigative consumer report about you. Although this is something to be aware of, let's stay focused on credit reports for now. Just remember that credit reports and investigative consumer reports are different.
Finally, your credit report may also not contain information from all of your creditors. As we talked about above, some of your creditors may not report to all of the credit bureaus and some may not report to any of the credit bureaus. Therefore, parts of your credit accounts and history may appear in different credit reports or not at all.