Credit Smart

Unit 2: Evaluate Your Credit Report

Review Your Credit Report

Before applying for a line a credit, take time to review your credit report.  A credit report is used by a loan officer in making a decision to extend credit.  A credit report tracks your success in managing credit responsibly and provides a record of your personal transactions, or credit history.  The report will contain the following:

  • Identifying Information.  Your name, address, social security number, date of birth and employment.  These factors are not calculated in your score but are used to determine your ability to repay a loan. 
  • Trade Lines. Creditors or lenders report on each account you have established credit with—student loans, credit cards, mortgages, or personal lines of credit.  Each lender will report the date you opened an account, your credit limit or loan amount, account balance and payment history. 
  • Inquiries.  Inquiries are a list of every one who accessed your credit report within the last 2 years.  The report list both soft inquiries—inquiries that do not affect your credit score—and hard inquiries—inquiries that do affect your credit score. 
  • Public Record and Collection Items.  The credit bureaus collect public information from state and county courts, and information on overdue debts from collection agencies.  Public records include bankruptcies, foreclosures, suits, tax liens, wage garnishments, and judgments. 

It is also advised you review your credit report with a knowledgeable representative who can walk you through your report and answer any questions you might have.

Obtaining Your Credit Report

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, TransUnion—to provide you a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.  To order your free annual credit report, visit:

Contacting the Three Major Credit Bureaus

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013

P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

Disputing Credit Report Errors

If there are mistakes on your credit report—outdated, incorrect, or duplicate information—you have the right to dispute information.  To dispute information contact the three credit bureaus and ask to have the information deleted.  Not deleting information will lower your credit score and make it difficult to qualify for a loan. 

Under FCRA credit bureaus are required to: 

  • Complete an investigation within 30 days of receiving your complaint.
  • Contact the creditor reporting the incorrect information within 5 days of receiving your complaint.
  • Review all relevant information or facts involved in a dispute.
  • Remove all inaccurate and unverified information.  
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