Your credit report is one of the most important and helpful tools you have to manage your personal finances. Credit reports detail everything that makes up – and influences – your credit score.
In a credit report, you’ll find details about:
- Trade lines. Also known as “credit accounts,” your report will include details on the type of account (bankcard, auto loan, mortgage, etc.), the date you opened it, your credit limit or loan amount, the account balance, and your payment history.
- Credit inquiries. Any time you authorize a lender to ask for a copy of your credit report, this creates one “inquiry.” Your report will list everyone who accessed your credit report within the last two years.
- Public records and collections. This section includes information on overdue debt from collection agencies, bankruptcies, and civil lawsuits.
Because your credit score impacts your ability to get auto or personal loans, mortgages, credit cards, and even apply to some jobs, it’s critical to review your entire credit report at least annually. Once per year, you can obtain your credit report for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1.877.322.8228. If you require more than one report per year, you can reach out directly to a credit bureau and buy your report. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are all credit bureaus that provide comprehensive credit reports to consumers.
As you review your report, pay close attention to possible red flags that may indicate you’ve been victim to fraud:
- An account of any kind has been opened in your name, but you have no recollection of it
- Collections accounts, bankruptcies or liens you don’t recognize
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If you suspect you’ve been a victim of fraud, report this immediately. Failing to report any and all mistakes – minor or major – could cause complications later down the road for you. To report errors, reach out directly to the credit bureau from which you received your report. You can start the process by visiting their website and filing a dispute, or calling them directly.