Important Information About Credit

This area of the report shows your most updated consumer credit score. These scores give you an idea of where your credit score stand, but they are not your FICO scores.


Information on a credit report:

Every credit report looks slightly different, but they all contain the same information about you and your accounts. The consumer credit report starts with a summary of the facts and your report number. The following is a list of critical information that you should pay attention to on your credit reports:


Creditor/Collection Agency Name:

Here, the creditor or the collection agency will list their name and address, but no phone number is included. Sometimes, they include their phone number at the end of the credit report near the address section. A partial number of your account will be listed also, to protect you from identity theft.


Credit bureaus: 

The three main credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These organizations are part of a billion-dollar industry, and they manage various databases that banks and credit card companies subscribe to regularly to make lending decisions for most consumers in America. They also sell specialized information to collection agencies and other major industries. The credit bureaus maintain negative and positive financial records and payment histories for over 100 million consumers throughout the United States. Congress has created a watchdog called the Federal Trade Commission to regulate the credit bureaus through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Personal Information:

Here you will find your name, address, date of birth, telephone number, spouse’s name/co-applicant, and your employer’s name. No Social Security number will be listed.

Public Records:

This section displays public record information like bankruptcies, judgments, tax liens, civil lawsuits, overdue child support payments, and criminal records. The remaining portion of your credit report contains addresses of companies that requested your credit report. It also displays various consumer laws from the Federal Trade Commission, contact numbers, common must-ask questions, and sometimes a dispute form issued by the credit bureau.


Late Payments:

Once you become more than 30 days late on any of your bills, the financial institution that you hold a loan with will disclose your late status to the credit bureau. You can be reported as 30, 60, 90, or 120 days late, and, by law, the late marks will remain on your credit report for seven years.


Whenever you apply for a credit card or a loan, your credit report is checked, which results in a hard inquiry. These inquiries could damage your credit score if you have more than six in two months. They can also stay on your credit report for up to two years.


These are debts that the creditor felt that they could not collect on anymore after 180 days, and so they charged them off as a bad debt. However, the creditor can still sell the account to a third-party collector for collection purposes. Judgments: If a creditor takes you to court and sues for a judgment, this destructive item will be placed on your credit report. The courts issue judgments that can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, but it can be renewed until it is paid or until it reaches the 20-year mark.


Child Support:

If you stop making child support payments, it becomes part of your public record and will therefore show up on your credit report. This negative mark can stay on your report for up to seven years.



Foreclosures take place when you default on your home mortgage and the bank takes the house back. Repossession is when you can no longer pay your car note and it goes into default. The lender will then confiscate the vehicle without your permission and sell it in an auction. Both create negative marks that will remain on your credit report for seven years.


Tax Liens:

Tax liens are public records that will find their way into your credit report if you default on your tax liability with the IRS. Paid tax liens will stay on your credit report for seven years but, while owed, they can remain on your record forever.



If you see an old account on your credit report under the collection tradeline, this is a bill that was sold or assigned to a collection agency. It was passed on to the collector from your original creditor because you refused to pay. This debt can legally stay on your credit report for up to 7.5 years, but you cannot be sued for it after the state statute of limitation has expired. See appendix for the state statute of limitation on revolving accounts.



Your credit report will list the date you filed for bankruptcies and the time it was discharged. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can remain on your credit report anywhere from seven to 10 years depending on your state, and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for seven years. A dismissed bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years even though it was not discharged. A dismissed bankruptcy means you started the proceedings but you changed your mind and decided not to complete the process.

Payment History:

Your paying habits are worth 35% of your credit score. If your late payments are recent, it will lower your score more than if you were behind in the past. In addition, a 90-day-late indication will severely damage your score over a 30-day mark. In addition, public records like tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies fall into the same category and could take your score down even further, so make sure you are current with the creditors and always pay your bills on time.

Pay Your Bills On Time:

Make a list of all your debts and their due dates. Then, type the due dates into your computer and cell phone calendars with active reminders. Use an internet banking program and your online credit card site to send email reminders regarding when your bills are due. In addition, you can set up your accounts to have money automatically taken out at the due date. When paying your bills, you can pay them as they come in using online banking or bill pay or through your financial institution's website. Using the various methods mentioned above will help you pay your debts on time. Making each payment on time raises your credit score and keeps you in good standing with your creditors in case you request a credit increase.

Pay Down Your Debt:

Put your debts in order from the card with the highest balance to the lowest. Pay each account down to 7 to 10% (ideally 1-3%) and keep it there to increase your score. Finding money to help you pay down your debt may be difficult, but there are numerous ways to raise extra cash. You can have a garage sale, sell items on eBay, get an extra job, pull from your savings, borrow from friends, and cut your expenses. Any of these are an option.

Don’t Close Old Accounts:

Closing trade lines won’t help. In fact, it will hurt your score by reducing your total available credit and it will make your balances seem higher. It also makes your total credit history look young, and the FICO model likes to see age on accounts because of payment history. Lastly, you want to keep the cards active by having a monthly bill debited from your card at the end of the month to avoid the creditor closing your account due to lack of use. Most lenders will close inactive accounts for not actively using the card after a certain time-frame.