What is a credit report?
A credit report is a record of your credit history that includes information about:
- Your identity. Your name, address, full or partial Social Security number, date of birth, and your employment information.
- Your existing credit. Information about credit that you have, such as your credit card accounts, mortgages, car loans, and student loans. It may also include the terms of your credit, how much you owe your creditors, and your history of making payments.
- Your public record. Information about any court judgments against you, any tax liens against your property, or whether you have filed for bankruptcy.
- Inquiries about you. A list of companies or persons who recently requested a copy of your report.
Why is a credit report important?
Your credit report is important because lenders, insurers, employers, and others may obtain your credit report from credit bureaus to assess how you manage financial responsibilities. For example:
- Lenders may use your credit report information to decide whether you can get a loan and the terms you get for a loan (for example, the interest rate they will charge you).
- Insurance companies may use the information to decide whether you can get insurance and to set the rates you will pay.
- Employers may use your credit report, if you give them permission to do so, to decide whether to hire you.
- Telephone and utility companies may use information in your credit report to decide whether to provide services to you.
- Landlords may use the information to determine whether to rent an apartment to you.
Who collects and reports credit information about me?
There are three major credit bureaus–Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion–that gather and maintain the information about you that is included in your credit report. The credit bureaus then provide this information in the form of a credit report to companies or persons that request it, such as lenders from whom you are seeking credit.
Where do credit bureaus get their information?
Credit bureaus get information from your creditors, such as a bank, credit card issuer, or auto finance company. They also get information about you from public records, such as property or court records. Each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, so the information in one credit bureau’s report may not be the same as the information in another credit bureau’s report.
Who else is allowed to see my credit report?
Because credit reports contain sensitive personal information, access to them is limited. Credit bureaus can provide credit reports only to
- lenders from whom you are seeking credit;
- lenders that have granted you credit;
- telephone, cell phone, and utility companies that may provide services to you;
- your employer or prospective employer, but only if you agree;
- insurance companies that have issued or may issue an insurance policy for you;
- government agencies reviewing your financial status for government benefits; and
- anyone else with a legitimate business need for the information, such as a potential landlord or a bank at which you are opening a checking account.
Credit bureaus also furnish reports if required by court orders or federal grand jury subpoenas. Upon your written request, they will also issue your report to a third party.
Does the credit bureau decide whether to grant me credit?
No, credit bureaus do not make credit decisions. They provide credit reports to lenders who decide whether to grant you credit.
I’ve been receiving unsolicited credit offers. Why? Can I opt-out of receiving these offers?
Credit bureaus may sell the names and addresses of consumers who meet specific credit criteria to creditors or insurers, who must then offer them credit or insurance. For example, a creditor could request from a credit bureau the names and addresses of consumers who have a credit score of 680 or higher and then offer credit to those consumers.
You can have your name and address removed from these lists by opting-out of the listing. This will reduce the number of unsolicited offers you receive. To opt-out, call 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com . You will need to provide certain information in order to opt-out, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
You have the ability to opt-out of receiving offers either for five years or permanently. If you want to opt-out permanently, you will need to fill-out, sign, and mail-in a form. The form is available by either calling the toll-free number or visiting the website.
You can reverse your opt-out decision at any time to start receiving offers of credit and insurance again by calling the toll-free phone number or visiting the website.