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How to Read a Credit Report

There is only one way to get a free credit report online. Go online to AnnualCreditReport.com.

 

 

 

A credit report may seem confusing at first, so it’s easier to read through it if you break it down into four basic sections:

  1. Personal Information
  2. Public Records
  3. Credit Account Information
  4. Inquiries

1. Personal Information

This is basic information such as your current and previous addresses, date of birth, telephone numbers, driver's license numbers, your employer, and your spouse's name. Look it over to see if it’s accurate. 

2. Public Records

This section lists items such as bankruptcies, judgments and tax liens. 

3. Credit Account Information

This is a listing and description about all your different accounts. Information about the accounts may include when you opened the account, the total amount of the loan or highest balance on the card, how much you still owe, and how well you’ve paid the account. This section includes revolving accounts (credit cards) and installment accounts (car loans, school loans and mortgages). 

4. Inquiries

This is a list of everyone who has asked to see your credit report, including yourself. This section doesn’t affect your credit as much as your credit history or public records.

Check the Credit Bureaus

The different credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian will have different information, and mistakes are common in credit reports, so your credit information will be more accurate if you correct mistakes with all three credit bureaus.

See samples from all three credit reporting companies:

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