Your personal credit standing is more important than ever. It is not just lenders and credit companies that are interested in checking your credit file. Car insurance companies, landlords, and even employers may be looking at your credit.
If you want to know about the status of all your past loans, consolidate or pay off old debt, or prepare to file bankruptcy, the first step is to obtain a copy of your credit report. Read on for an easy guide to obtaining your credit file, and an insider’s guide on how to read your report.
What Is A Credit File?
A credit file is a report containing your credit history;
Name, Date of BirthCurrent and Former AddressesLoansCredit CardsCollectionsJudgments
Credit reports are maintained by 3 companies; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Who Can See My Credit Report?
By law, companies or people need your permission to see your credit. Typically it is during a loan application, insurance process or during hiring. However, in recent years, the credit bureaus have been hacked and much of our private data was stolen by people without permission.
How Can I See My Own Credit File?
The good news is you are entitled to look at your credit report for free at least once a year. It is worthwhile to check all 3 of the major credit agencies. Links to obtain your free report are below.
How To Read A Credit Report?
This section contains your name, current and past addresses, and date of birth. Be sure these look correct. If there is incorrect information it could be a sign of fraudulent activity or cross-referencing your file some other person.
This section describes all your accounts past and present. Each account lists the following information.
Name of lender Credit rating for this account Total loan amountRemaining balancesTerm or length of time loan was open Late paymentsDate of Last ActivityLast 12 Months of Payments
Each account will be scored ‘I’ for Individual, ‘J’ for Joint account. This is followed by a number; 1 is a great score, 2-5 means some late payments. 9 means the loan went into default. Remember to check that any credit cards you don’t have anymore are closed.
This section contains collections or CCJ’s (judgments). Ideally, this section would be blank.
Collections can be from loans or any other unpaid bills such as power or water. Judgments mean the debt has gone through court and garnishment can occur.
This area tells you who has looked at your credit in recent years. Take a look. If anyone is pulling your credit without permission, you should contact them to find out why. Too many inquiries can hurt your credit score, so it is important not to apply for credit unless you really want to open an account.
Using Your Credit File
Knowing your credit status is empowering. Remove all doubt about where you stand, who you owe, and what past lenders are saying about you. Also, be sure nobody has been trying to take out loans in your name and stop that from happening. Everybody should take advantage of this important, free, and easy resource.