What Is a Credit Report?

September 10, 2003

A credit report is a report from a credit bureau containing detailed information bearing on credit-worthiness, including the individual's credit history.

A typical credit report shows some personal information including social security number; current and past addresses; employment history; public record information such as liens, foreclosures, bankruptcies and garnishments; collection accounts; and credit information. The last covers individual credit relationships and shows the creditor, the current status of each account including the amount outstanding and the maximum line if any, prior payment history, and recent activity. A credit report also shows a list of companies that have requested the individual’s file and the date the request was made.

There are three major repositories of credit information: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. The information provided by the three is not exactly the same because not all credit grantors report information to all three.

At one time, underwriters with responsibility for determining whether or not a mortgage applicant was “credit worthy” spent much of their time studying and interpreting credit reports. Increasingly, however, this judgment is being based on credit scores.

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