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How to read your credit report

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Part of being responsible for your credit involves understanding how to read your credit report. While the format of your report will vary from bureau to bureau, each will offer the same type of data – information about your payment history.

Ideally your credit report should be reviewed every six months; this can help intercept fraud and catch potential errors. When pulling your credit report it’s best you pull from all three bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion). Pulling your credit from all three bureaus will give you a well-rounded view of your credit. Additionally, not all creditors report to all three bureaus, some only report to one.

The reports from each bureau will look different but these terms will assist you when reviewing your report. If you have received your report through Guaranteed Rate’s site, your report will provide additional information.

Here are some of the terms you will see while reading any of the reports:

Creditor:

This is the company who has issued your credit card, car payment, student loans, mortgage etc.

Account Number:

The number shown on the credit report will not reflect the entire account number and, in some cases, it will not match your account number at all (this is done for your protection). Typically, only a portion of the number is listed and you will be able to match the second or first half of the account number.

Reported:

This date represents the last time the account status was reported to the credit bureaus.

Last Active:

This is the last time the account realized any activity; essentially the last time you made a payment. Last active, in most cases, is the same as the date it was reported. There are some instances when the dates will be different. For example, if you stop using a credit card then close it a year later, the reported date will be 12/11 and the last active will be 12/10.

Opened:

This is the date the account was opened.

Limit/Highest Credit:

This is the limit on your credit card or the initial amount of credit extended to you for a car or house etc.

Amount Past Due:

If you are late or are behind on any account, the past due balance will show in this area.

Terms/Payment Amount:

This indicates the amount of the monthly payment and how long you will pay on the debt. Credit cards typically have no term as it is on-going (or revolving) debt.

Number of Months Revolving:

This will tell you the number of months the account has been open.  If there are any late payments it will also tell you how many late payments and if you were 30, 60 or 90 days late.

The end of the report will show details of any public records such as a bankruptcy, foreclosure or tax liens. Additionally you will see your name aliases, companies that pulled your credit in the last two years and finally, some regulatory verbiage.

If you’ve received a credit report from Guaranteed Rate, you’ll see additional information requested specificlly for the purpose of processing your loan. For example you will see:

Fraud Alert:  

The purpose of this alert is meant to confirm the validity of your social security number, address, phone number, value of your home and confirm whether or not you own other pieces of real estate.

ID Cross Check: 

This compares the information your loan officer entered, against the information Equifax, Experian and Transunion have in their system – quite simply, a confirmation of accuracy.

At the end of any credit report you will be provided with the address and main phone number for each creditor listed on your credit along with the contact information for each credit bureau.

If you find there are accounts which don’t belong to you or inaccurate information reported, you have the right to dispute inaccuracies or fraud.

Visit Guaranteed Rate often for consumer-friendly mortgage education.

Educate Yourself: Federal Trade CommissionU.S. Department of JusticeFair Credit Reporting Act Summary

Credit Resources: EquifaxExperianTransunionAnnual Credit ReportCredit Karma and Credit Sesame

Continuing Education

Your Credit, the First Step in the Home Buying Process
How to Manage Your Credit
Divorce and Your Credit


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All information provided in this publication is for informational and educational purposes only, and in no way is any of the content contained herein to be construed as financial, investment, or legal advice or instruction. Guaranteed Rate, Inc. does not guarantee the quality, accuracy, completeness or timelines of the information in this publication. While efforts are made to verify the information provided, the information should not be assumed to be error free. Some information in the publication may have been provided by third parties and has not necessarily been verified by Guaranteed Rate, Inc. Guaranteed Rate, Inc. its affiliates and subsidiaries do not assume any liability for the information contained herein, be it direct, indirect, consequential, special, or exemplary, or other damages whatsoever and howsoever caused, arising out of or in connection with the use of this publication or in reliance on the information, including any personal or pecuniary loss, whether the action is in contract, tort (including negligence) or other tortious action.

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