What Are Credit Reports

Credit reports are documents lenders use to understand how much money you’ve borrowed in the past, how much you’re borrowing now, and how you’ve paid it back. Three companies in the U.S., Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, keep track of your past and current credit activity and provide credit reports to lenders. You’ can also receive free copies of each of your credit reports, in accessible formats including PDF files, Braille,, large print, and audio, once a year by visiting www.anualcreditreport.com, or by calling (877) 322-8228. If you’re deaf or hard-of-hearing, you can use the TTY service by calling (800) 821-7232. When it comes to paying bills, you may make mistakes such as missing payments or forgetting to pay your bills on time. Lenders also make mistakes. Finally, criminals may try to steal your identity and use it to borrow money in your name. Any of these issues can appear on your credit reports making it difficult or impossible for you to borrow money when you need too. Experts recommend that you review your credit reports regularly so you can spot and correct any issues you may find before they become an emergency. You can correct your own mistakes by making the payments you missed and asking the company or collection agency to correct the missed payments on your credit reports. Missed payments usually disappear from your credit reports after seven years if you fail to spot them or if you’re unwilling or unable to get the collector to correct the missed payments on your credit reports. You can correct inaccurate information on your credit reports by reporting the issue, in writing, to the organization who reported the issue and to the credit bureau who issued the credit report. If you believe you’re a victim of an identity crime, the Identity Theft Resource Center, ITRC, can help you through their web site, www.idtheftcenter.org, or by calling (888) 440-5530.