You can obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com. According to AnnualCreditReport.com, a credit report is a summary of any loans or extensions of credit that are associated with your social security number. This can include; credit cards, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and other businesses that have extended credit to you. When you make a payment on a credit card or loan, the business that gave you the loan or credit keeps a record of how much and often you pay, as well as the credit limits and loan balances. Those businesses and other sources may report your credit, loan and payment history to one or more credit reporting companies. The credit reporting companies each combine the information they receive about your different credit, loan and payment activities into a credit report. The credit reporting companies prepare credit reports for people in the U.S. Since not all businesses report to all three credit reporting companies, the information on your credit reports may vary.
A credit report is an organized list of the information related to your credit activity. Credit reports may include:
- A list of businesses that have given you credit or loans
- The total amount for each loan or credit limit for each credit card
- How often you paid your credit or loans on time, and the amount you paid
- Any missed or late payments as well as bad debts
Credit reports may also include:
- A list of businesses that have obtained your credit report within a certain time period
- Your current and former names, address(es) and/or employers
- Any bankruptcies or other public record information
It is a best practice to review your credit report at least once every year to monitor for any suspicious activity and stay on top of your credit score.
Your credit score is a number value assigned based on your credit history, ranging from 300 (a very poor credit score) to 850 (an exceptionally good credit score.) Your credit score is positively impacted by:
- Making your payments on time
- Avoiding maxing out credit cards and credit limits
- Having credit history for a longer period of time
- Applying for new credit or loans infrequently
Establishing a credit history is important to be approved for loans, and it is also critical to manage your debt in a responsible way. For more information on how you can get and keep a good credit score, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.