Sometimes, people talk about your credit. What they mean is your credit history. Your credit history describes how you use money:
If you have a credit card or a loan from a bank, you have a credit history. Companies collect information about your loans and credit cards.
Companies also collect information about how you pay your bills. They put this information in one place: your credit report.
Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It lists:
Businesses want to know about you before they lend you money. Would you want to lend money to someone who pays bills on time? Or to someone who always pays late?
Businesses look at your credit report to learn about you. They decide if they want to lend you money, or give you a credit card. Sometimes, employers look at your credit report when you apply for a job. Cell phone companies and insurance companies look at your credit report, too.
A company called a credit reporting company collects your information. There are three big credit reporting companies:
These companies write and keep a report about you.
You can get a free copy of your credit report every year. That means one copy from each of the three companies that writes your reports.
The law says you can get your free credit reports if you:
Someone might say you can get a free report at another website. They probably are not telling the truth.
A credit score is a number. It is based on your credit history. But it does not come with your free credit report unless you pay for it.
A high credit score means you have good credit. A low credit score means you have bad credit. Different companies have different scores. Low scores are around 300. High scores are around 700-850.
It is very important to know what is in your credit report. But a credit score is a number that matches your credit history. If you know your history is good, your score will be good. You can get your credit report for free.
It costs money to find out your credit score. Sometimes a company might say the score is free. But if you look closely, you might find that you signed up for a service that checks your credit for you. Those services charge you every month.
Before you pay any money, ask yourself if you need to see your credit score. It might be interesting. But is it worth paying money for?
You might not have a credit history if:
Without a credit history, it can be harder to get a job, an apartment, or even a credit card. It sounds crazy: You need credit to get credit.
Do you want to build your credit history? You will need to pay bills that are included in a credit report.
Businesses look at your credit report when you apply for:
If you apply for one of these, the business wants to know if you pay your bills. The business also wants to know if you owe money to someone else. The business uses the information in your credit report to decide whether to give you a loan, a credit card, a job, or insurance.
Some people have good credit. Some people have bad credit. Some people do not have a credit history. Businesses see this in your credit report. Different things happen based on your credit history:
All this information is in your credit report.
An important reason to get your credit report is to find problems or mistakes and fix them:
You want to know what is in your report. The information in your report will help decide whether you get a loan, a credit card, a job or insurance.
If the information is wrong, you can try to fix it. If the information is right – but not so good – you can try to improve your credit history.
You can get your free credit report from Annual Credit Report. That is the only free place to get your report. You can get it online: AnnualCreditReport.com, or by phone: 1-877-322-8228.
You get one free report from each credit reporting company every year. That means you get three reports each year.
Your credit report has a lot of information. Check to see if the information is correct. Is it your name and address? Do you recognize the accounts listed?
If there is wrong information in your report, try to fix it. You can write to the credit reporting company. Ask them to change the information that is wrong. You might need to send proof that the information is wrong – for example, a copy of a bill that shows the correct information. The credit reporting company must check it out and write back to you.
Look at your free credit report. The report will tell you how to improve your credit history. Only you can improve your credit. No one else can fix information in your credit report that is not good, but is correct.
It takes time to improve your credit history. Here are some ways to help rebuild your credit.
After six to nine months of this, check your credit report again. You can use one of your free reports from Annual Credit Report.
Your credit score is a number related to your credit history. If your credit score is high, your credit is good. If your credit score is low, your credit is bad.
There are different credit scores. Each credit reporting company creates a credit score. Other companies create scores, too. The range is different, but it usually goes from about 300 (low) to 850 (high).
It costs money to look at your credit score. Sometimes a company might say the score is free. But usually there is a cost.
Each company has its own way to calculate your credit score. They look at:
They look at the information in your credit report and give it a number. That is your credit score.
It is very important to know what is in your credit report. If your report is good, your score will be good. You can decide if it is worth paying money to see what number someone gives your credit history.Read more
Your credit history is important. It tells businesses how you pay your bills. Those businesses then decide if they want to give you a credit card, a job, an apartment, a loan, or insurance.
Find out what is in your report. Be sure the information is correct. Fix anything that is not correct.
This is easy to do by phone:
That company mails your report to you. It should arrive 2-3 weeks after you call.
Read it carefully. Make sure the information is correct:
The report will tell you how to improve your credit history. Only you can improve your credit history. It will take time. But if any of the information in your report is wrong, you can ask to have it fixed.
The credit reporting company must look into your complaint and answer you in writing.Read more