How do I get my credit report?

Every year, you can obtain a copy of your credit report for free. By obtaining your report you will be able to verify that your credit report doesn’t contain any bad or misleading information. You’ll also be able to check what your current credit score is.  Do note that you can only request it once a year, so when you get it, save it to your computer.

I have my credit report, how do I read it?

Once you have your free credit report, It is normal for you to not know what all those abbreviations, numbers and codes mean. The most widely used system for credit scoring is called the “FICO” score, developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. This number determines the chance of risk of extending credit to a person. Credit reports are typically divided into a few sections;

  • Your personal identifying information
  • Public records
  • Credit history
  • Inquiries

The credit report breakdown:

Your credit report contains all of your personal information such as your name(and aliases), address, and social security number. It is crucial that you double-check that this information is correct because you can run into an issue when some of this data is used to verify who you are when signing up for credit services such as a credit card. This personal information section will often list your date of birth, telephone number, spouse’s name, and even your most current employers information.

Public Records

The public records section is used to list out any bankruptcy, or legal judgments that you have had in the past, and will stay on your report for 7-10 years. If you ever have any data go into this section, it’ll hurt your credit score more than anything else on your report, and take much longer to repair.

Credit History

The credit history section is generally the most confusing. This is the section that lists out the following:

  • Each creditor you’ve had business with(credit cards, loans, etc…)
  • Accounts that have been closed(such as credit cards, store cards)
  • Accounts that are still open, even if they have no balance or you’re still making payments on.

The three credit reporting agencies will have a different looking report. For example, Experian’s report displays their report in plain “English”, and states everything in normal human-readable terms, like “pays on time”, “pays thirty days late”, etc. Whereas reports from the other two agencies sometimes use numerical codes, which then you have to cross-reference to another page that tells you what each code means.

Regardless of how they are structured, make triple sure that all three reports contain the same information because it’s known for all three to mismatch sometimes, which isn’t good because that means that your score will be different on each agency. Also, If you have accounts that you paid off and closed or a loan that has been paid off but still remains on your report as a revolving credit (money available to you as you pay it down), contact the credit agency to dispute it because this incorrect information could be damaging your score.


Inquiries includes a listing of everybody who has ever “pulled” your credit report. A “hard pull” or “hard inquiry” is done when your’e trying to open up a credit card with a company or trying to get a loan from your bank. There’s also something called “soft pulls” or “soft inquiries”, which are triggered when getting any promotional offers. Soft inquiries won’t usually damage your overall credit score, but too many of them is a bad sign sign.

Request a copy of your credit report if denied credit

If you’ve already obtained your annual credit report, you can get a duplicate of your credit report any time you have been denied credit. Maybe there was an error on your credit report that prevented you from getting the credit you applied for. Either way, take the time to read it over and look for any discrepancies and immediately contact the credit agency in question and straighten it out.

Having said this, Always makes sure that your report is accurate, as your report will be looked at when you are considering going for a mortgage, new vehicle, or different loan.