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All About Consumer Credit Reports

Explore what's inside a consumer credit report when lenders review your credit. Find out how to get a credit report in order to understand more about your credit history.

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Why your Credit report is required reading

Credit cards, if used wisely, can be an important factor in helping you to establish a positive credit history for yourself. By establishing good credit, you may be more likely to obtain loans in the future for automobiles, home and other types of credit. Part of building a positive credit history is understanding what credit reports are and how they work.

What is a credit Report?

A credit report is based on your credit history — that is, whether or not you have paid your bills on time. This information, gathered from banks and other creditors, includes monthly credit card and loan payment information. It may also include monthly rent or utility payments.

In other words, your credit history reflects your behavior, which means you can control what's in it.

Your credit history usually contains 4 types of information:


This includes your name, address and previous addresses. Also shown are your Social Security Number and birth date.

Public Record:

This includes bankruptcy filings, tax liens and any court action that has been taken against you for unpaid bills.


Your record tells who gave you credit and when. It shows how much you paid, how often and if you paid on time.


This is a list of parties who have recently inquired about your credit report. This list may include current and prospective lenders from whom you've recently sought credit, and card issuers interested in soliciting your business and employers.

What's not in
my credit report

By law, certain personal facts can't appear in your credit report. These include your race, religion, health status and political affiliation.

You can have inaccurate information removed from your credit history. But if it's accurate, it stays there for
7 to 10 years
and you cannot require that it be erased.

How can I get my credit report?

Periodically review your credit report at each of the 3 major credit bureaus to know exactly what personal information creditors and lenders can access and to ensure all your information is accurate.

To help facilitate this process, federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you ask for it.

You can request 1 or all 3 of your free annual credit reports from a single, centralized source via the Web at, by calling 1-877-322-8228 or mailing requests to: Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

All About Consumer Credit Report

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