The credit bureaus know a lot about you, but they don’t know everything.
The bureaus gather data about your past use of credit into reports, and that information makes up your credit scores. Lenders, landlords, employers and others might use your reports to help size you up.
To shake the feeling that they lay your entire financial life bare, take a look at what does and doesn’t show up on your credit reports.
5 things that aren't on your credit reports
1. Salary: It makes a big difference in your day-to-day life, but your salary doesn't appear in your credit reports, and it doesn't affect your credit scores.
2. Employment status: Credit reports might list your employers, but they don’t say whether or when your employment ended. The information is for identification purposes and comes from your past credit applications.
3. Marital status and spouse’s credit history: You can get married, but your credit reports won’t. You and your spouse will each have separate credit reports, and his or her credit won't affect yours. So if you’re worried that marrying someone with poor credit will affect your good credit, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But take note: Accounts you open together — a mortgage or shared credit cards, for example — do show up on both credit reports, and mistakes such as late payments could affect you both.
4. Assets: Your bank balances, retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, and investments or brokerage accounts aren't listed on your credit reports.
5. 401(k) loans: When you borrow money from yourself, it doesn't appear on your credit reports. (But it’s also generally not a great idea — it can really set back your retirement saving progress.)
4 things that are on your credit reports
1. Identifying information: Credit reports have identifying information including your name, address and birthdate.
2. Credit accounts: Reports list both open and closed credit accounts, including credit limits and payment records. That most often means credit cards and installment loans, such as car loans and mortgages. Rent can be included if your landlord reports it, but most do not.
3. Credit inquiries: This records instances when you've applied for credit or checked your scores.
4. Negative financial information: Reports might also include negative information such as payments you've made at least 30 days late, defaults, tax liens, debt collections and bankruptcies.
How to get your credit reports
You have a right to know what lenders and others see when they pull your credit data. You can monitor your credit by signing up for a source of free credit report information. Most sites offer a free credit score as well.
You also get at least one free report every 12 months from each of the three major credit-reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — through AnnualCreditReport.com.
Get to know your reports. If something you don’t recognize pops up, it could signal identity theft, and the sooner you discover and address it, the better.
If you see a mistake, contact the credit bureau reporting it and ask to have it removed.