If you are getting a loan, a mortgage or applying for a credit card your credit score will play a big role. Credit reports have become increasingly more important over the years, and more lenders pay more attention to borrowers’ credit scores. Your Credit score will help the lender determine if you are suitable candidate for a loan, set your interest rates and your terms of repayment. The better your credit score is the better terms and interest rates you can get from the lender as you will present lower risk to them. However, your credit score is not the only factor that will determine the outcome of your application, other things such as your assets, income and job stability are also important facets. Even potential employers are checking prospective employees’ credit reports before making an offer.

Basics of Your Credit Report

There are mainly three main agencies that provide credit reports, Equifax, Transunion and Experian. Each of these agencies will provide a slightly different score due to the different methods they use to calculate your scores. There are several things you will see on your report:

1. FICO Score – Your FICO score is a numeric value that is calculated based on many things including your payment history, amounts owed, length of history, types of credits used…, etc.

2. Your credit report will also have your personal information such as name, address, employer and social security number.

3. The products you have such as your credit cards, lines of credit, non-revolving loans will also be included. As will the limits, outstanding balances and your payment history (if you have ever missed a payment it will be in here).

4. Credit report will also include if any item has reached a collection agency or if there are/were any judgments against you in the last 6 years. Bankruptcies will also be included in your report if it was within the last six years.

5. Finally it includes all inquires into your credit report within the past few years.

Whenever a lender, or anyone you have given permission to, accesses your credit report they will see all this information about you.

How Often to Check Your Credit Report?

You can see the importance of your credit score and your credit report, small inaccuracies can have huge impacts on your life. That’s exactly why it is so crucial to check your credit report on regular bases, I always recommend checking your credit once every quarter – this way if there are any inaccurate information you can fix it before it is too late. Another reason why regular credit checks are important is Identity theft, millions of people fall victims to ID fraud and by the time they find out it is too late. By regularly checking your reports you will be able to identify anything suspicious and take care of it immediately.

How often do you check your credit report? Do you have any horror stories about people falling victim to ID fraud or inaccurate information?


Ray is an ex-financial adviser and the founder of Financial Highway. Currently working in the financial industry and working towards completing his Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA, designation.