There is much to learn about credit reports and credit reporting agencies. So much, that it is unlikely you know everything there is to know about credit reports. What follows is a list of facts of which you may not be aware. Of course, this list is far from comprehensive but we hope it serves to inform you further.

You can still get a mortgage with a foreclosure on your credit report.

Although foreclosures will not drop from your credit report for seven-years, FHA and USDA lenders are permitted to consider extending you a mortgage after a three-year waiting period—two-years for a VA loan.

Most credit reporting is voluntary.

Credit reports only contain account information that is voluntarily passed along to credit reporting agencies by creditors. While credit reporting agencies actively scour the public record for information regarding judgments, foreclosures and tax liens, information from private sources, banks and the like, is entirely voluntary. These companies typically enter contracts with the credit bureaus to provide information.

Your credit score isn’t included in your credit report.

Your credit score appears nowhere on your credit report. If you only order your credit report, that’s all you’ll receive.

Federal law grants you access to a free credit report each year.

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year. The major credit bureaus provide a copy of this credit report through a centralized website www.annualcreditreport.com.

The law also entitles consumers to a free report from all nationwide consumer reporting agencies that compile and maintain files related to: medical records or payments, rental history, check writing history, employment history, or insurance claims. These other agencies do not have to provide consumer reports through a centralized website, so you’ll have to request your annual credit report directly from the agency.

There’s a 25% chance your credit report has errors.

In a 2013 FTC study, one in four consumers reported finding an error in their credit report that could affect their credit score.

If you are rate shopping for a mortgage, auto or student loan, the credit reporting agencies regard multiple credit inquiries as a single inquiry, provided the inquiries occur within a 14-day period.

You have reports with companies other than the Big Three.

While Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the most well known credit bureaus in the United States, there are other credit reporting agencies. For example, Innovis is a national credit reporting agency which specializes in gathering derogatory information. Another national credit reporting agency you have never heard of is Pay Rent Build Credit (PRBC). As the name implies, this agency collects data from landlords, utility companies, cell phone service providers and cable television companies.

Marriage doesn’t merge your credit reports.

When two people get married, they continue to maintain separate credit reports. Even the changing of a last name doesn’t merge credit reports. If, however, the two of you open joint accounts together, those accounts will appear on both spouses’ credit reports. The same would be true, however, even if the two of you were not married.

Divorcing doesn’t separate joint accounts.

Unfortunately, joint accounts will remain joint accounts in a divorce. While the courts may determine that one spouse is responsible for the joint debts, creditors and credit bureaus continue to treat these accounts as joint obligations. That means timely or untimely payments will continue to affect both spouses’ credit until the accounts are paid off and closed.

You may not have a credit report.

If you’ve never had a credit, loan, or debt collection, there’s a good chance you don’t have a credit report. This is especially true of young adults who are just starting out with credit.

Not all late payments go on your credit report.

There’s late…and there’s late. Your loan agreement may mandate a late fee after your payment is 10 days late, your credit card has a due date and will penalize you with a late fee after the payment is even just a few seconds late. As far as your credit report is concerned, a payment is late until it’s 30 days late. As long as you make up your missed payment before that time, it won’t go on your credit report.

On top of that, you have payments that aren’t routinely reported to the credit bureaus. This includes rent, utilities, and cell phone payments. These late payments may cause a fee and could lead to service interruption, but unless you’re severely delinquent, the late payment won’t go on your credit report.

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