2. What information does a consumer credit report contain?
A consumer credit report includes four types of information:
- Identifying information: for example, your name, current and previous addresses, telephone number, reported variations of your Social Security number, date of birth, and current and previous employers. This information comes from your credit applications, so its accuracy depends on your filling out the forms clearly, completely and consistently each time you apply for credit.
- Credit information: specific information about each account such as the date opened, credit limit or loan amount, balance, monthly payment, current status and payment pattern during the past several years. The report also states whether anyone else besides you (your spouse or cosigner, for example) is responsible for paying the account. This information comes from companies that do business with you.
For open accounts, positive credit information may remain on your report indefinitely; most negative information remains up to seven years. Closed accounts with no negative information remain for 10 years, helping you establish a positive credit history.
- Public record information: bankruptcy records; federal, state, county and district court records of tax liens and monetary judgements; and, in some states, overdue child support. This information comes from public records.
Bankruptcy information can remain on your credit report up to 10 years; unpaid tax liens can remain for up to 15 years; other public record information can remain up to seven years. Public records are deleted based on the filing date of the item.
- Inquiries: the names of those who obtained information about your credit history.
Inquiries you initiated (by applying for a new credit card, for example) become part of your credit report and may be considered by those who review your credit history. They remain on your report for two years.
On your personal copy of your Experian credit report, information about those who inquired for the purposes of extending a preapproved credit offer, for managing an existing account or for employment evaluation is included for your information. An inquiry also is posted when you obtain a personal copy of your report. These inquiries are not revealed to creditors and do not impact your ability to obtain credit.
There are three types of dispute statements that could appear on your credit report.
An “account in dispute” statement should be added by the creditor when you challenge an account’s status. The creditor typically removes the statement when the dispute is resolved. If the dispute is not resolved, the statement may display as long as the disputed information remains on your credit report, usually seven years.
If you disagree with the results of a dispute specific account, you may request that a statement be added to that account indicating you disagree with the creditor. The account-specific statement will remain until the account is removed, typically seven years, or until you ask that it be removed.
You also may add a general statement to you credit history that is not specific to an individual item or account. A general statement remains for two years.