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Big Brother Knows Whats in Your Credit Report - How About You?

Whether you are aware of it or not, credit bureaus have been keeping tabs on you and how you use credit. When it's time for you to apply for a mortgage, credit card, or personal loan, your credit report is what lenders look at to decide to approve you or not.

Information about you is collected and stored in national repositories. Every time you apply for credit, whether it's a retail store charge account or an auto loan, the information you provide gets sent to the credit bureaus. When you are late paying a loan, it shows up on your report. If you have ever been in a dispute with a merchant and you refused to pay them, the merchant can report your non-payment to the credit bureaus for all lenders to see.

Your credit history is an important part of getting a loan. By getting a glimpse of how you handled debt obligations in the past, lenders can estimate the likelihood that you will pay back their loan in the future.

What's in your credit report?
Credit reports are chock full of goodies to keep your lender busy. If you have never seen your report, you may be surprised at how much information is actually gathered.

  • Personal Information.
    This section includes information that identifies you by name, address, and Social Security number. It gives your date of birth and employment history. Information in this section is not used for scoring purposes.
  • Credit Lines.
    This is the meat and potatoes of the credit report. It shows all of your credit accounts and lists the details of each. These details include creditor's name, type of account (credit card, auto loan, school loan...), account number, date the account was opened, current balance, past due amounts, credit limit, and payment history. It will list whether you usual pay on time or are normally late 30, 60, or 90 days. The report will also show any closed accounts that you have.
  • Credit Inquiries.
    An inquiry is an event where a company asks the bureau for a copy of your credit report. Any company that has accessed your credit report in the last two years will be listed.
  • Public Record and Collection Items.
    Any information about you that is public record from courts or debts reported by collection agencies will be listed here. Court information can include bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens, and other judgements.

Who is Big Brother?
The three major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. The information that they have on you may not be identical. One may have accurate records, but another might have an error that can prevent you from getting a loan. Since you do not know which bureau a lender will use to base their approval decision, you should inspect your report from all three bureaus. Equifax offers a 3 in 1 report where you can view your credit report from all three bureaus in a single transaction.

Before you apply for any loan it is wise to review your credit report. This way you can fix any errors before the loan process begins, saving you time and frustration if you get rejected due to a correctable problem caused by big brother and not you.

Jon Galanty is a financial writer for eMoneyCentral.com. Visit http://www.emoneycentral.com to find out more about credit, loans, banking, and to get other great money tips.

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