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Reading your credit report

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You’re getting your financial life in order in 2020. Yesterday, we explained how to get your credit report. Now that you have it, you want to know what it means. Here’s where to start.

What’s a credit report? It’s a summary of your credit history. It lists personal information (name, address, Social Security number), payment history on credit accounts (like mortgages, student loans, credit cards), and public records (like if you’ve filed bankruptcy). Read the report carefully. Make sure the information is correct:

  • Personal information – are the name and addresses correct?
  • Accounts – do you recognize them? Is the information correct?
  • Negative information – do you recognize the accounts here? Is the information correct?
  • Inquiries – do you recognize the places you applied for credit?

What if you don’t have a credit report or your report is blank? You might not have a credit history if you haven’t had a credit card or taken out a loan. To build a credit history, you’ll need to open accounts that are included in a credit report. For example, you could apply for a secured card, where you pay a security deposit to show the bank you’re committed to paying back what you borrowed. It’s very important to pay these off on time though, or it could end up hurting your credit.

If you find mistakes on your report, you can take steps to fix them. Tomorrow’s blog will tell you how. If you want to get a head start, you can read Fixing Your Credit, Credit Repair, and Credit Repair Scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Appreciate the many articles that are posted. Should be of great help to may folks.

Waste of time to try and correct mistakes, they do not care and takes years!

This is very timely as I've just requested my first credit report. If I find any discrepancies, the FTC e-mails/website will be a much appreciated resource to help guide me through the appropriate steps to take.

Thank you, Ms. Schifferle for these helpful notes about getting and correcting agency credit reports. GB

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