What is a Credit Report?
A credit report is a document that lists events in your recent history that impact your credit rating or credit score. Any loans, credit cards, or other debts incurred over the past 7 years can and should be included on a credit report. Some information – such as past bankruptcies or unpaid tax liens – stays on a credit report for longer, while certain types of credit checks, like those for high-salaried jobs, will pull up all credit information from the very beginning of your history.
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A credit report is usually summarized in a credit score, a number between 300 and 900 that tells banks and other lenders how trustworthy you are and how sound of a lending investment you might be.
Why Should I Check My Credit Report?
Your credit report is supposed to include transactions and history for you and only you. That's why it's connected to your name and social security number – so that employers, loan officers, credit cards, landlords, and anyone else who might check your credit report knows they are receiving information about the right person.
But in cases of identity theft – a growing problem in the United States – thieves will use your personal information, such as credit card and social security numbers, to steal money or secure a loan or credit card that they never intend to pay back. These kinds of transactions can have a serious impact on your credit score – one that victims don't usually learn about until months or even years later, when they are denied a mortgage or passed over for a job offer. Occasionally, there are legitimate mistakes in credit reports that are easy to correct if they're caught right away, and all but impossible to erase if they're left for a while.
The best way to prevent these problems is to check your credit score regularly by ordering a copy of your credit report.
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