Credit Reports: What are They and Why Do I Need One?

According to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal government agency, a credit report is a statement that shows financial information about you and how you have used credit. Credit reports are generated by credit reporting companies, also known as credit bureaus.  

Financial companies like banks and creditors, and some utilities and landlords provide information about your finances and payment history to the credit bureaus so they can create the credit reports about you.  

There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You are able to obtain a free credit report from each of these credit bureaus each year to double check the information about you for accuracy, reporting errors, or fraud such as identity theft. According to the CFPB, there are other reasons that you might be able to get additional free reports, such as being denied credit or insurance. You can also check your credit score – a number that represents the information in your report. Learn more.  

Oportun reports customer accounts to Equifax and TransUnion so you can establish a credit history (the information inside your credit report about how you have used credit). Making your loan payments on time and in full can help you establish a good credit history, which could help you obtain other credit, such as a car loan or credit card, or rent an apartment! Missed or late payments can have a negative impact on credit history and credit scores. 

 You can request free credit reports: 

Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281 

The CFPB says that credit reports contain other information such as: 

 Personal information:  
  • Your name and any other name you use or may have used in the past in connection to a credit account. 
  • Current and former addresses 
  • Birth date 
  • Social Security number 
  • Phone numbers 
Credit accounts: 
  • Current and past credit accounts, including the type of account (such as mortgage, auto loans, student loans, installment, revolving, etc.) 
  • Credit limit or amount  
  • Account balance 
  • Payment history 
  • The date the account was opened or closed 
  • The name of the creditor 
Collection items  
  • Outstanding debts that were sent to collections 
Public records 
  • Liens 
  • Foreclosures 
  • Bankruptcies 
Inquiries 
  • Companies that accessed your credit report (a prospective lender, employers, and your own request for an annual report). 

 Couple looking at their credit report to make sure all the information is accurate to protect themselves against identity theft.

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