Your job, your income, your status…none of them says more about your personal and financial future than your credit report. A good credit history means you'll have an easier time getting credit when you want it–for a new home, car or credit card–and may even qualify for lower rates.
Your credit history is publicly available information on how you have handled your past financial relationships. It usually contains the following information:
Identification: Your name, address (including past addresses), Social Security Number, and birth date. You supply this information every time you apply for credit. Filling out forms consistently (such as entering your name the same way every time) helps reduce errors in your report.
Employment: Your current job and employer. It may also include past employers.
Credit: Creditors supply monthly details such as your outstanding balances, credit limits, monthly payments and payment patterns over several years. Information about closed accounts remains on your report for 7 years. Prospective creditors often use this section to evaluate patterns in your handling of credit, especially for the last 2-3 years.
Public record: This includes bankruptcy, tax liens, and judgments against you and, in some cases, overdue child support. Information remains on your report for 7 years, except for bankruptcy, which can remain for up to 10 years. Unresolved judgments can remain on your report for seven years or until the governing statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer.
Inquiries: If you request credit from a lender, their inquiry will appear on your report for 2 years. Inquiries made in order to solicit your business will appear only in your copy of the report.
Promotional inquiries: Your report may contain a list of companies that have made promotional inquiries about you. Firms and banks that are interested in contacting you with credit offers make these inquiries because you fit a certain set of criteria. They only appear in your copy of the report.
By law, certain personal facts–your race, religion, health status and politics–cannot appear in your credit report. Read Your Legal Rights for more information on restrictions.