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What Is a Credit Report?

How Do You Read Your Credit Report?

Each credit report differs in its appearance, but contains the same basic information, usually divided into four sections:

  1. Identifying Information
  2. Account History
    May be sub-divided into two sections: positive accounts and collection accounts.
  3. Public Records
  4. Inquiries
    Divided into two categories: hard and soft inquiries.

Your personal profile details, public records section, and list of credit inquiries are self-explanatory and easy to read. The account history section of your credit report is a little trickier to follow if you've never seen a credit report. Following is a breakdown showing how each of the three main credit bureaus lists the account history section.

EXPERIAN CREDIT REPORT

Experian groups accounts into categories like "Accounts in Good Standing" and "Potentially Negative Items." Each account is listed alphabetically by creditor. For security purposes, the full account number is not provided in the report, so other people don't have access to your account numbers on your credit report. Here's what appears in the Experian Account History section:

  • Status—open or closed account
  • Date Open—the date the account was opened
  • Reported Since—first reported date
  • Date of Status—when the status was updated
  • Last Reported—when the last update was reported
  • Account Type—installment, revolving, or mortgage
  • Terms—the number of payments in your payment plan
  • Monthly Payment—the latest reported minimum payment due
  • Responsibility—who has to make the payments (individual or joint)
  • Credit Limit—the highest amount you have been approved to use
  • High Balance—the highest amount you've ever owed on the account
  • Recent Balance Information—the current total amount you owe
  • Recent Payment—the most recent payment you made on the account
  • Account History—indicates whether you have paid on time or late
  • Your Statement—optional section where you can write a response to the account history information
  • Account History—this section repeats as an optional response by the creditor to any statement you may have placed on the credit report

 

EQUIFAX CREDIT REPORT

Equifax reports its "Account History" by type of account, such as mortgages, revolving credit, installment accounts, etc. Equifax shortens account numbers to protect your privacy. Equifax provides a short summary before each account listing, including your "Account Status," which indicates whether you have paid the account as agreed or defaulted. An Equifax account history looks like this:

  • Account Number—the number used to identify the credit card or loan
  • Account Owner—who is responsible for the account (individual or joint)
  • Type of Account—installment, revolving, other, or collections
  • Term Duration—the total number of payments in your repayment plan
  • Date Open—the date the account was opened
  • Date Reported—when the lender last reported on the account
  • Date of Last Payment—the last time you made a payment on the account
  • Scheduled Payment Amount—lists the amount due each month on an installment account
  • Creditor Classification—indicates the type of creditor
  • Charge-Off Amount—the amount of any debt that was not paid by you that the lender wrote off as uncollectible
  • Balloon-Payment Amount—the amount of the lump-sum payment at the end of the loan term (some loans will not have this payment)
  • Date Closed—when you closed the account
  • Date of First Delinquency—when you first defaulted on your payment plan
  • Comments—additional information about the account supplied by the creditor
  • Current Status—indicates if you are paying on time or are past due
  • High Credit—indicates the highest amount of credit you have ever used on the account
  • Credit Limit—the highest amount of credit available for the account
  • Term's Frequency—indicates when your payment is due (monthly, weekly, quarterly, etc.)
  • Balance—the total current amount owed on the loan
  • Amount Past Due—the amount that was due but has not been paid
  • Actual Payment Amount—the amount of money you paid on the due amount
  • Date of Last Activity—when you last used the account
  • Months Reviewed—how many months are reviewed and included on the credit report (Equifax maintains up to 81 months of an account's history)
  • Activity Description—indicates if it is pty Description—indicates if it is paid, cl an account's history)
  • Activity Description—indicates if it is pty Description—indicates if it is paid, closed, etc.
  • Deferred Payment Start Date—indicates the start date to begin paying on a deferred loan (such as a promotional loan or student loan)
  • Balloon-Payment Date—when the lump-sum amount is due at the end of your loan term
  • Type of Loan—indicates if it's a credit card, auto loan, etc.
  • 81-Month Payment History—outlines each month's payment status for up to seven years of account history (notations include "pays as agreed," VS for voluntary surrender, F for foreclosure, R for repossession, CO for charge-off, CA for collection account; a number, such as 30 or 60, indicates a range of days past due

 

TRANSUNION CREDIT REPORT

On the TransUnion report, your "Account History" is grouped into "Adverse Accounts" and "Satisfactory Accounts." TransUnion displays the account numbers in full. Contact information for the creditor (mailing address and telephone number) is typically included. A Transunion "Account History" section looks like this:

  • Loan Type—indicates if the debt is a credit card, mortgage, auto loan, line of credit, etc.
  • Late Payments—grouped under 30, 60, or 90 days old
  • Remark—indicates if the account is open or closed
  • Balance—the current total balance on the account
  • Date Updated—when the lender last reported information on the account
  • High Balance—the highest amount you have ever owed on the account
  • Collateral—the security (usually property) used to ensure payment of the loan; may include the physical address of the property
  • Credit Limit—the highest amount you can use on this account
  • Past Due—the amount overdue on the account
  • Terms—the total payments you agreed to pay on the repayment plan
  • Payment Status—indicates if you have paid, late paid, or are past due on the account
  • Account Type—additional details about the type of account
  • Responsibility—lists who signed to repay the loan (individual or joint)
  • Date Opened—when the account was opened
  • Date Closed—when the account was closed
  • Date Paid—when the loan was paid off in full
> How To Get a Copy of Your Credit Report