5 Things to Look for Every Time You Check Your Credit Report

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check-your-credit-reportYou pull your credit report. You now have this mound of paper sitting in front of you, but do you really know what you are looking for?

There at least five things to look for every time you check your credit report. Not only is it information you should be aware of, but it’s also what lenders and creditors are looking at when they are making a lending decision.

Personal Information

The personal information on your credit report includes your name and current address. An incorrect suffix, for example Jr. when you are a Sr. or vice versa, is an indication that your credit file might have been mixed up with someone else’s information. You also want to make sure that the address on file is accurate. If it is an incorrect address, it might indicate that someone is opening accounts under your name, but having the account information and bills sent to their address.

Negative Items

The second area of your credit report you want to focus on is the negative items area. This section usually follows the personal information section. The credit bureaus highlight the items on your credit report that might be dragging your credit score down. Typical items that show up in this section include:

  • Bankruptcy filing
  • Late payments
  • Collection accounts
  • Write-offs
  • Discharges

If these items are inaccurate then you should contact the credit bureau right away to straighten out the matter. If the items are accurate, then you should contact the creditor to work out payment or payoff arrangements.

Account Information

The bulk of your credit report is a listing of each of your credit and loan accounts. The first thing you want to review in this section is that you recognize all of the accounts. If there are any accounts you do not recognize then mark them to investigate whether the account belongs to you or not.

Then, review the credit limit, current balance and payment history. Note any accounts that show that they were closed by the creditor, have late payments or other derogatory consequences associated with it.

[Free Resource: Check your free credit report and score]

Inquiries

Each time a creditor or lender pulls or reviews your credit, it shows in the inquiries section. There is a difference between pre-screening and a “hard pull” of your credit report. For example, a pre-screen might be a credit card company that briefly looks at your report to see if you might qualify for the pre-approved credit card offer, but does not pull a copy of it.

A hard pull of your credit report happens when you apply for credit. You might see that your insurance company pulled your credit report when you applied for a new policy, for example. The reason you want to look at this area is because every time a company pulls your credit report, it lowers your credit score. You want to be aware of companies pulling your report because someone is trying to open fraudulent accounts under your name.

Public Record Information

Public record information is the recording of a lien, mortgage or even bankruptcy. While there isn’t anything you can do if the information in the public records is correct, you want to know if liens, mortgages or bankruptcies are showing up in your name that you aren’t aware of having.

When you check your credit report you should also be aware of what you should be looking at – and now you know!