University of Illinois Extension

Check Your Credit Report

A credit reporting agency compiles your credit report. It is based on information reported regularly to the credit reporting agency by businesses who have issued you credit cards or loans. Landlords, lenders, potential employers, and even your insurance company may use your credit report to determine your worthiness, reliability, and responsibility. Your report contains the following information:

  1. Identification - your name, address and Social Security number.

  2. Employers - both current and previous.

  3. Payment History - an account record that lists all your creditors, how much credit has been extended to you, and how you have repaid it. This information can stay on your report for up to seven years.

  4. Inquiries - credit reporting agencies are required to keep a list of all creditors who have asked for your credit history within the past year.

  5. Public Record Information - bankruptcies, foreclosures, court ordered child support or alimony, or tax liens may also appear in your report. Bankruptcy information may stay on your report for up to 10 years.

In some situations, a credit reporting agency can include any negative credit history in your report, no matter how long ago it happened. When you apply for $50,000 or more in credit, apply for a life insurance policy with a face amount of $50,000 or more, or apply for a job paying $20,000 or more, the credit reporting agency can report any negative information in your credit report - no matter how old it is.

Keep Your Credit Report in Top Form

You can keep your credit report in top form by using your credit cards responsibly. Make payments on time and under the terms of your agreements. Always pay at least the minimum amount required. Paying more than the minimum is always a good idea, but you can keep a good credit record as long as you pay at least the minimum and pay on time.

When you move, be sure your creditors are the first to know your new address. Your bills will continue to arrive on time, making it easier to pay them on time.

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