Key elements of a credit report

Personal information
Your name, address, phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, and employment history.

Account information
Your credit history, including student loans, mortgages, credit cards, and the amount of credit that’s available to you from all of these sources.

Payment history
Information on your payments, including whether or not you’ve made them on time.

Public record information
Any publicly available reports on delinquent accounts, liens, bankruptcies, and lawsuits (a public record can remain on your credit report for a number of years, depending on the type of account).

Credit inquiries
People or companies who have requested your credit report over the past two years and the date they requested it (businesses need a legitimate reason to access your report).

See a sample credit report (PDF)


Keep an eye on your credit report

  • The information in your credit report may have an impact on whether you’ll qualify for a loan and how much interest you’ll have to pay. Plus, potential employers may view your credit report.
  • Review your credit report annually to make sure that there are no mistakes. Check it out when you’re going to apply for a loan, like a student loan, mortgage, or auto loan.
  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each nation-wide consumer reporting agency to give you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Request a copy from AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228.

If you find mistakes in your credit report

Contact the consumer reporting agency about the error and include supporting documents. Be sure to keep copies of your correspondence and your documents. They generally have 30 days to investigate the issue. If they agree that there’s an error, they have to notify the other major consumer reporting agencies.

If you suspect identity theft

Place a fraud alert on your credit file with the three major consumer reporting agencies. You should contact anyone that’s listed as having issued new credit and close the account. Also, file a report with the police immediately.