Understand the Credit Report, Part 1

Credit reports are divided into several sections, designed to make the reports easier to read and understand. The order in which these sections appear and their formats will vary, depending on the credit reporting agency and how the credit report was obtained.

All credit reports for consumers begin with a “Report Summary.” This includes your name, the Report Number, and the date the report was issued. You’ll also find a short summary of the potentially negative and positive pieces of information found within the report. If you need to contact any of the credit reporting agencies in reference to information on your report, to initiate a dispute, for example, you will need to provide the Report Number included on your credit report.

Each item listed on your credit report is called a Trade Line- whether it’s a mortgage, car loan, student loan, credit card, charge card, or other type of loan. For each Trade Line, you will see detailed information on your credit report, which includes:

o The creditor’s name. This will be the name of the creditor or collection agency that has reported the information to the credit reporting agency.

o The creditor’s address. This is the mailing address of the creditor.

o The creditor’s phone number. This is the phone number you should use to contact the creditor to make a payment, make a settlement offer, to initiate a dispute or to get a question answered. If no phone number is listed for the creditor, contact the credit reporting agency directly or call directory assistance.

o Account number. This is your account number associated with your account or loan. Displayed here might be your loan number, credit card number, or other customer identification number. For security purposes, some creditors list only the first or last few digits of an account number.

o Status/remark. This describes the current status of the account. It might read, “Open/Current,” “Paid As Agreed,” “Collection Account,” “Paid, Closed/Never Late,” “Account closed at consumer’s request,” “Paid in settlement,” “Placed for collection,” “Closed,” or some variation that describes whether or not the account is active and in good standing. When you see “Open/Current” displayed as the status of an item listed in your credit report, it means the account is open, active, paid up-to-date, and is in good standing. This is the ideal status you want for each current listing on your credit reports.

o Date opened. This is the date the account was first opened.

o Type. Here, the type of account is listed. On your credit report, it might read, “Revolving,” “Credit Card,” “Collection,” “Automobile,” “Mortgage,” or “Installment,” for example. A “Revolving” account typically refers to a credit card.

o Credit limit/original amount. The amount of the original loan will be listed here, if the item is for some type of loan (such as a mortgage or car loan). The credit limit will be listed here if the accounts related to a credit or charge card.