Your credit report provides a snapshot of your credit history and your overall financial health. Credit reports help lenders decide whether or not to lend you money or extend your line of credit and what interest rate they will charge you. Other than lenders, prospective employers, insurers, rental property owners may also look into your credit report. The information in your credit report is distilled into three-digit credit scores – the higher the score, the better.
While credit scores are different from credit reports, it is the information from these reports that determine your creditworthiness thereby potentially affecting all your financial decisions.
It is prudent to regularly stay connected to your credit information as it lets you monitor any suspicious intervening activity and also to observe and understand how your own behavior impacts your credit information. Your credit report contains various sections like; personal information, current accounts, credit inquiries, and negative information.
Implications of your credit report content may vary from:
• Misspellings or incorrect data in the report could be signs of potential identity theft. There’s a law that allows parents to place a protected consumer security freeze on their child’s credit scores, thereby preventing identity theft.
• A hard inquiry might lower your credit score minimally for a short time and remain on your credit report for two years.
• A soft inquiry does not have an impact on your credit risk and will not be seen when a company asks for your report.
• Failure to pay taxes can remain on your credit report for ten years. Other negative transactions like bankruptcy or foreclosure will hamper your eligibility as a borrower to apply for a loan.
A credit reporting agency(CRA) is a company that collects all information pertaining to your financial activities like where you live, and work, modes of bill payment, whether or not you’ve had any negative financial impact etc. This is combined and presented as a credit report. This is sold to creditors, employers, insurers, and others.
Things to be aware of while using free credit report websites are:
• The information provided are only those given to them by the CRA they are partnered with. Chances are it might not be the whole picture.
• As these websites have secure access to your financial information, they might push products that are tailored to appeal to you and your financial situation.
In spite of you being entitled to receive your credit report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com, using a paid credit monitoring service gives you the best shot at identifying identity theft.