How to see what is on my credit report?

Magnifying glass on top of a credit reportThe easiest way to see what is on your credit report is to obtain a free credit report from each one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once every 12 months from

The free credit reports do not include the credit scores. Needless to say, the credit agencies will provide you with your credit score for a fee.

There are a few ways to obtain a free credit score. Many credit card companies are now offering a free score to their credit card customers.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
Creditors (including card issuers) generally have to disclose your credit score (and related information) if they use the score and:

- offer you a higher rate than other consumers get from that creditor. 
- deny your application,
- increase the cost of your credit

A credit report is a detailed record of your credit transactions, your residency, employment and many other aspects of your life. Credit reports do not contain information regarding you ethnicity , religious beliefs and affiliations, political beliefs and affiliations and your sex. The Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates the content of consumer credit reports.

Anytime you make application for any type of loan, your credit report and credit score is requested from one or more credit reporting agencies. The three largest credit reporting agencies are the Experian corporation, TransUnion, and Equifax companies. These credit agencies collect and maintain credit information on the majority of Americans. Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax are not connected with the federal government.

A credit report is not only a current record of your credit records, but a history of nearly almost everything you have done over the previous ten years or so. Your credit report signals your tendency to pay your bills on time, late, or to totally ignore your financial obligations. Your credit report is your financial resume to the world.

The credit reports are created by for profit corporations called credit bureaus. The credit bureaus sell your credit information, including your credit score to their subscribers. The credit bureaus obtain your personal information from the lenders who offer you credit. The lenders (or subscribers) are required in turn to report to the credit bureaus any information that may impact your credit profile. That's how a late payment finds it's way to the credit bureaus.

What information is contained on my credit report?

Credit lines, school loans, credit cards, car loans, mortgages and department store credit cards all appear on credit reports.

Collection Accounts

A collection account is a loan that went into default that was handed over to a collection agency. Paid and unpaid collection accounts are very likely to be included on your credit report. Collection accounts, regardless of their status, are viewed as a serious problem by credit providers. If you're aware of any unpaid collection accounts, you should pay them as soon as possible.

Public Records

Public records include satisfied and open liens, judgments, and bankruptcies.

Credit Inquiries

When your make application for a loan and the lender requests a copy of your credit report, a credit inquiry from the lender is likely to appear on your credit report. Many credit inquires can lower your credit score because it appears to lenders that you're seeking to borrow money because your circumstances have changed for the worse. A small number of credit inquires within a short period of time is acceptable to lenders, however, recent, and excess credit inquires can impair your chance of obtaining credit. Inquiries may remain on a credit report up to 24 months.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The law requires most negative credit records to be removed from your credit report after seven years, however, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to ten years.

Who Can Look at Your Credit Report

We expect credit card issuers and other lenders to conduct a credit check before approving an application. But employers? Insurance companies? You might be surprised by the businesses and agencies that are allowed to, and increasingly do, check your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act and state credit reporting laws regulate who have access to your credit report and how it can be used.

Creditors and potential creditors (including credit card companies and car lenders) are permitted to review your report when you make an application for credit and are allowed to monitor your credit activity after they have given you a loan or credit. Although, there are some restrictions to continuous credit monitoring.

Employers can review credit reports when evaluating job candidates. Employers use this information to evaluate financial responsibility as an indicator of job performance. And, if you're hired, employers can use the report for just about anything related to the job, including promotion and reassignment decisions. Prospective employers must first obtain your written authorization and provide certain disclosures.

Government agencies can request your credit report to determine whether you are eligible for public assistance. They do this to discover concealed income or assets, not to see if you have any unpaid bills. The law also allows state and local government officials to obtain credit reports to help determine if, and the amount of, you are able to pay in child support.

Collection agencies can examine your credit report to learn more about your assets and your location when trying to collect an overdue debt from you.