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Why your credit report matters
Your credit report is information about you and your history with credit. It includes your accounts, whether you’ve paid your bills on time and sometimes collections or bankruptcies. It’s important to check that the data is correct and up to date because it can have a powerful impact on your finances.
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Frequently asked questions
What is a credit report?
Credit reports are records of how you've handled credit accounts in the past. The three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — gather this data and sell it. Credit reports list your accounts and your payments, as well as any problems like late payments, collections, lawsuits or bankruptcies.
Are credit reports the same as credit scores?
No, credit reports list your credit history without interpretation. Credit scores, on the other hand, apply a formula to the data in your report to create a three-digit number predicting how likely you are to repay money as agreed. Two companies dominate credit scoring in the U.S.: FICO® and VantageScore®. NerdWallet partners with TransUnion® to provide your VantageScore® 3.0, based on information in your TransUnion® credit report. Credit score is only one factor lenders consider and they may not use the TransUnion VantageScore.
How do I get my free credit report?When you sign up with NerdWallet, you get access to your TransUnion credit report. It's updated weekly, and you can check it whenever you want. You also are entitled to a free report every 12 months direct from each of the three big credit bureaus (the other two are Experian and Equifax) by using AnnualCreditReport.com. Because credit reports update far more frequently than once a year, it’s smart to monitor them at least monthly.
Who has credit reports?
You do, if your name is on a credit account and the credit issuer reports to a credit bureau. A "credit account" means something that must be repaid, like a loan or credit card. Adults who don't have traditional credit accounts likely don't have credit reports. And minors likely won't have a credit report unless they're authorized users on an adult's credit card.
Where does credit report data come from?
Lenders and credit card issuers; debt collectors; public records (such as bankruptcies); and sometimes landlords. Any of these entities can choose to report your activity to all three bureaus, some of them or none — reporting is voluntary. NerdWallet checks weekly for updates on your TransUnion report.
What should I look for on a credit report?
Check names you've used, addresses, your Social Security number and birthdate. Then, look for things that don’t belong there: accounts you don’t recognize, payments marked late or accounts marked delinquent when you paid on time, and records like bankruptcies showing up beyond the number of years they can be reported (usually seven).
Who can see my credit report?
You can see your own credit report. With your permission, so can potential employers. Insurers, banks, utilities and landlords can see your credit history if you submit an application with them. Lenders can see your report if you apply or if they extend a preapproved offer.
What should I do if I see something that seems wrong?You can dispute errors on your credit report with the credit bureau that is showing the information. The bureau has 30 days to investigate and take action. If you find an error on one credit report, it’s smart to check the other two.
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