Understanding the Consumer Credit Report

A consumer credit report is a limited record of your personal information as it relates to your consumer credit activities. It is primarily used by lenders and creditors to determine your credit reputation or credit worthiness when deciding to extend you credit or grant you a loan. Although numerous smaller credit reporting agencies (CRAs) exist, there are only three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs) that are widely accepted; TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The consumer credit report is separated into a few major categories with the most common being Credit History, Public Records, Collection Accounts, Inquiries, and Personal Information.The Credit History section displays some of the most common information that you would expect to see on a consumer credit report such as real estate mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit, personal loans, and auto loans. While displaying some of the most common information that you might expect to see such as the account name and account number of each account, this section of the consumer credit report also displays the status of each account and whether it is current or past due in payment. This section of the consumer credit report goes into further detail by displaying the balance, minimum payment due, and payment history of each account.The Collection Account section of the consumer credit report displays information on accounts that have been charged off by the creditor and sent to collection agencies. The collection name and collection number should be exhibited along with the original creditor’s information. It should also exhibit the date in which the account was charged-off and sent to collection along with the dollar figure the collection agency is seeking to recover.The Public Records section of the consumer credit report is reserved for county and state court records & displays such items as foreclosures, bankruptcies, judgments, and tax liens. While numerous consumers do not have items that fall into this category, it is not uncommon for this section to be missing from the consumer credit report. Foreclosures, judgments, bankruptcies, and tax liens/civil liens are considered to be some of the most derogatory items that can be found on a consumer credit report. They have a very serious negative impact on the consumers credit score and a tremendous influence on a creditors or lenders decision to issue credit or grant a loan.The Personal Information section of the consumer credit report consists of numerous items such as your full name, current and previous addresses, any known aliases, social security number, year of birth, current & past employers. If available and available, this section will also exhibit similar information about your spouse.As some of the terms used in this article may be unfamiliar to you, I have listed numerous terms and their corresponding definition below in order to help you understand the common consumer credit report.Credit Report: A complex report containing the credit history of a consumer. A consumer’s credit report is generated by a credit reporting agency and contains information provided by the consumer’s present and past creditors to be used in determining the consumer’s credit worthiness.Credit Reporting Agency: Credit reporting agencies, often referred to as credit bureaus, are companies that collect, manage, and report information received from creditors and collection agencies regarding the individual consumer. The three largest and most commonly known credit reporting agencies are: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Many consumers believe these companies to be official government entities, which is a common misconception. In fact, they are for-profit companies.Collection Account: A debt that is considered to be a loss or expense by the creditor. The creditor will attempt collecting that debt through the use of an internal collection department, outsource the account to a contracted collection agency, or sell the debt to a third party for a reduced price.Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: The most common form of consumer bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy typically releases a debtor from any and all liability for the credit accounts included in a bankruptcy. In exchange, the debtor must usually forfeit some personal property. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on the debtors consumer credit report for 10 years.Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Although Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is normally used for businesses, it can be used by consumers in specific rare cases involving extremely large debt. However, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 can be much simpler and provide better protection for most consumers.Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Chapter 13 is a type of consumer bankruptcy under which the debtor does not forfeit personal property. Rather, the consumer agrees to a three- to five-year wage earner plan to repay all or part of their debt. A Discharged Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on a consumer credit report for 7 years from the date filed. An Open or Dismissed Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on a consumer credit report for 10 years from the date filed.Foreclosure: The legal process by which a creditor may sell mortgaged property to recover a defaulted mortgage.Judgment: A determination by a court of law that, in the case of credit, may require a person to satisfy or pay a debt.Tax Lien: A charge upon real or personal property for the satisfaction of debts related to taxes.Civil Lien: A charge upon real or personal property for the satisfaction of some debt or duty ordinarily arising by operation of law.Inquiry: An instance in which all or part of your credit file is accessed by a company or individual. Inquiries stay on your consumer credit report for not more than two years.