Keeping track of your credit is one of the most important things you can do as a responsible adult. Knowing what is on your report; who holds your debt, the age of your debt, negative or positive debt reports, and even former addresses on file with your creditors is going to help you stay on top of your credit rating.
Why is this important? If you want to buy a house, buy a car, buy a diamond engagement ring, put yourself through culinary school, or get a job (some employers will check your credit report to see if you are responsible enough for the job), you’ll need to have good credit, or at least have a plan to fix your credit report so that your score benefits.
With so many people jumping on the credit bandwagon, because they know that credit is so crucial, there are many who want to know what is included in a credit report. Well, we will answer the question by telling you what ISN’T in a credit report–it’s much easier that way.
Believe it or not, when you go online for your free credit report, your credit score isn’t included. Why? Well, the credit report companies offer free reports in order to lure you in and get you to purchase your score (which is what loan companies look at when determining your credit worthiness). Sometimes the cost of the score is as low as $5, but you will ALWAYS have to sign up for a monthly score monitoring service. While the idea of a monthly credit monitoring service is a good one, in all honesty, your score and report will only update three times a year, so monitoring it month to month is just a waste of money. Also, chances are that you will want to try it for a month, but then you’ll get so busy you’ll forget to call the 1-800 number to cancel–the free credit score companies thrive on forgotten membership cancellations.
Cash on Hand
Your free credit score will NOT include information on the amount of money you currently have in your checking and savings accounts. This information is too liquid, and it doesn’t matter how much money you have on hand if you aren’t paying your debt, which is all the three credit bureaus care about.
Your Non-Credit Cards
Using your debit card or pre-paid credit card is a good way to stay out of debt, but using them won’t help your credit score. Why? Debit cards and pre-paid credit cards are basically the tools used for the section above–cash on hand, which, you know by now, isn’t considered by the bureaus as report worthy.
If you filed for bankruptcy more than 10 years ago, this information will not be included on your current credit report. Why? After 10 years, the three credit bureaus consider this debt to be old and are willing to throw you a bone. They assume that the debts attached to the bankruptcy have been paid and you are more credit wise because of your experiences.
Seven Year Old Debt
Your free credit report will NOT include information on charged-off accounts (accounts for which you fall so far behind that the creditor loses all hope of repayment and just declare the debt abandoned) or collections debts that are older than seven years. While many debtors are holding out for the seven year limit so that they don’t have to pay on the debt, they should probably remember that while the credit report has no record of the debt after seven years, the creditors have long, deep memories. If you try to go back and get credit through the same creditors seven years later, chances are that they will laugh in your face.
Unnecessary Personal Information
The three credit bureaus are very good about keeping track of where you’ve lived, the amount you’ve settled a debt for, and how many days you’re late on paying your Children’s Place Card, but they have no idea that you’re originally from Ghana, that you practice Islam, or that you are a woman. Your credit report will not contain information pertaining to things outside of the realm of money (or tracking you down to get money owed). You won’t find information about your religion, gender, nationality, political affiliations, ethnicity, criminal records, or medical records.
Your credit report is loaded down with information, but after reading this article, at least you know what you won’t find when you hit the “print report” button and the pages and pages of report start spewing from your printer.
Do you get your free credit report? How has it helped you?