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What is a Personal Credit Report?

What is a Personal Credit Report?

Whenever the fiscal health of a person or business is spoken about, there is a mention of the 'credit report,' which acts as your financial report card. It enables you and others who may be connected with you financially, to access your detailed credit history and score.
Gaynor Borade
The need for a credit report arises most when you apply for a loan or wish to know whether or not your financial management skills are up to the mark. It is a document that is designed under legal supervision and access to it is limited. The document can be issued only by the three credit bureaus authorized by the government to do so: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
The motive is to access the credit history of a person for evaluating whether he can take on any more credit. The credit bureaus are supposed to provide a person with a free copy of his or her report, on request. These requests are entertained only once every financial year. The individual should regularly monitor his credit history for accuracy and identity theft.
Importance
The credit report is very important in case of a loan application, to deal with credit crunch, or to monitor credit repair. The information on your fiscal health and the overall rating determines whether or not you qualify for a loan. This data also helps the lender calculate the monthly repayment towards the loan.
Information on the Report
  • Residential address and phone numbers
  • Mode of payment of bills
  • Information on your credit card and loan accounts
  • Payment history and current outstanding balances; also includes late payments
  • Information on any violation of law involving arrest
  • Information on filing for bankruptcy, and failure to pay taxes
  • Details of inquiries regarding your credit history
Creditors, insurers, or employers can access information on the report.
Access
The nationwide consumer reporting companies enable access to the credit report via a specially designed and monitored central website called annualcreditreport.com. The information can also be accessed through a toll-free telephone number and a mailing address.
  • Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800
The mailing addresses are easily accessible in the yellow pages. They differ from agency to agency and from city to city. The request forms are easily accessible via the Internet. The report can be ordered from each of the three bureaus at the same time. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) extends certain rights and a free copy of the report to every citizen once a year, under the free annual credit report program.
It is important to be aware of scrupulous efforts by certain hoax websites to access sensitive data. They entice the public to order these reports 'free of charge,' or use words such as 'free credit reports immediately,' both of which are rights and not an option. They also offer 'free credit monitoring' and later charge fees to your credit card.
Many are known to intentionally misspell annualcreditreport.com. to lure people to their site. The official website or any of the credit bureaus never send emails asking for personal information. Many of the fraudulent sites send such mails, or arrange phone calls by hoax 'representatives' of annualcreditreport.com. or one of the credit bureaus.
To access a copy of the report, you need to provide the following details directly to the authorized agencies:
  • Full name, as it appears on the passport and identity cards
  • Date of birth
  • Complete residential address, with the correct ZIP code
  • Previous address, if there has been a shift in residence in the last two years
  • Social security number
  • Sensitive information that only the person in question is likely to know, like the repayment towards a particular loan