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What Is Contained
In The Typical Consumer Report

A credit report contains a lot more information than what most people realize. Basically, there are five main categories: personal data, accounts transaction history, accounts reported as being delinquent or in default, public records and inquiries.

Personal data typically includes the name of the individual, including former names and any alias used, social security number and past and present addresses. The individual's employment history, including salary, is also included. If married, the same information may be included for the spouse.

Accounts transaction history includes detailed information on various accounts opened by the individual. A typically entry may include the creditor's name and address, type of account, account number, amount of credit extended or the original amount of the loan, current balance, whether an individual or joint account, name of any cosigners, when the account was opened, and if the account is no longer active, when and by whom it was closed. Also included, and of particular interest to lenders and others, is a payment history. The payment history shows the transactions during the previous 24 or 36 months, thus indicating whether the account is current or past due, and whether the individual typically pays on time, or is typically 30, 60, 90 or 120 days delinquent.

The transaction history is typically provided to the credit bureau by the creditor on a monthly basis as long as the account is active. Also included is whether the account is in collection, charged to profit and loss, or discharged in bankruptcy. Creditors providing this information typically include banks, credit card companies, mortgage and finance companies, credit unions, savings and loans, commercial lenders, and department stores.

Accounts reported as being delinquent or in default includes much of the same information noted above, except that these creditors typically only report to the credit bureau if the individual is delinquent or in default. The report may status the account as being a certain number of days delinquent, but not include a detailed payment history. Also included is whether the account is in collection, charged to profit and loss, or discharged in bankruptcy. This information is typically reported by local merchants, landlords, insurance companies, utilities, hospitals, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. In essence, the type of account, type of creditor and the account status are the major factors determining how, or whether, the account is reported to the credit bureau.

Public records, such as, bankruptcy filings, lawsuits, court judgements, foreclosures, judgement liens, tax liens, mechanics liens, child support delinquencies, and criminal arrest and convictions are also included in credit reports. This information is provided to credit bureaus by private companies who search the public records of municipal, state and federal agencies, land record offices and other government agencies.

Inquiries include names of creditors, landlords, employers and others who requested a copy of the credit report within the past 12 months. Such requests are not limited to inquiries in response to a new application for credit, housing or employment. A credit card issuer, for example, may review a cardholder's current credit history to determine whether to increase the cardholder's credit limit or to suspend credit privileges.

In addition, creditors and others may also solicit credit reports for legitimate promotional purposes, such as, a pre- approved credit card offer. In these cases the credit bureau typically provides the creditor with only a list of names and addresses of those individuals meeting the criteria set by the creditor, for example, individuals with an excellent credit rating. While inquiries may appear harmless, creditors are concerned when they see a lot of them. It may be perceived that the individual is having difficulty obtaining credit, trying to acquire a lot of credit and/or undergoing financial hardship.

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