When you apply for credit, the lender reviews your credit report before approving your application. Think of a credit report as a resume. It details how well you have paid your bills and used financial tools such as credit cards and checks.

Just like a report card or a resume, a credit report is used to document your performance; in this case, your financial performance.

The report details how well you pay your bills, bank loans and credit card purchases. It also can indicate if you have abused financial tools such as checking accounts and debit cards. Even debts of small amounts, if not paid on time, can hurt your credit standing.

The three major credit agencies which monitor this activity are EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion. These agencies, also called “bureaus,” collect and report information about your financial habits and put the information into a credit report.

Below is a list of information that can appear on a credit report:

  • Your name, Social Security number, birth date and current and previous addresses.
  • Information about your employers, both current and previous.
  • Your payment history with major credit cards, department store charge accounts and loan payments.
  • Your payment history with utility and telephone services.
  • A list of your accounts (if any) that have been referred to a collection agency.
  • Inquiries made about your credit history that have been made over the past several years, and whether or not you were granted credit.
  • Public record information: such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, and tax problems.

Information on a credit report can remain for many years. (This is often referred to as your “credit history.”) Since this report is used by others to make important decisions affecting you, it is important to review your credit report for accuracy once a year.