Credit Score? Credit Report?

You ask, why do I need a credit score or a credit report? Most of your major life events are influenced by credit. When you plan to purchase a house or a car, when you plan to rent, when you apply for insurance, a new job most businesses and organizations rely on your credit report to get to know you and your habits as fast as they can. Their decision could easily be influenced by what they see so it is always a good idea to review your credit report and score occasionally to insure there are no mistakes or negative annotations. It is easy to do so and the law allows you a free credit report every year! Learn more below...



There are three credit reporting companies in the United States – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) states that each of these companies has to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months.  The FCRA ensures that all of your information is kept securely and privately, and that all reported credit information is accurate. This is enforced by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).

Your credit report will consist of personal information, including your address, previous addresses, how and when you pay your bills, if you have any bills in default, and whether you have been sued or declared bankruptcy. This information can be sold to any business that requires a credit report to determine your eligibility for employment, credit cards, or renting/buying a home.



Ordering Your Credit Report

The easiest way to obtain your credit report is through the FTC website,  Keep in mind that this is the ONLY legitimate website for obtaining your three credit reports.  Other sites claim to offer your credit report and/or score but most are simply looking for a way to obtain your credit card information.

If you prefer not to use the internet to obtain your credit report, you can always call 1-877-322-8288 to have the reports mailed to your home.  You can also fill out the Free Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:

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


Required Information

Each company will ask you different questions to verify your identity.  All three will ask for your full name, date of birth, your current address, and your Social Security Number. If you have spent less than 2 years at your current address, you may be asked to verify your previous addresses.

Once the basic information has been obtained, each company will ask you a series of questions that only you should be able to answer. These might include a list of addresses, and you will be asked to select one that you have never lived at. It could also be the amount of your car or house payment. It will vary from company to company.  This ensures the security of your personal credit information.


need credit report

Why would I need a copy of my credit report?

People obtain their credit reports for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To see if they have a credit rating high enough to qualify for a loan or line of credit and see credit utilization rate.
  • To make sure all the information is accurate and up to date, especially if they are considering applying for a job or purchasing a home.
  • To monitor their credit to prevent identity theft.  If someone steals personal information, such as names, social security numbers and birth dates, they can use it to open credit cards or obtain loans in that person’s name.  When these or your student loans are not paid back, they can negatively affect the credit rating of the victim.
credit bureau

Do I have to order a report from each company?

That is entirely up to you but it could be a good practice. Each credit bureau in United States obtains its information from different sources, so any negative or positive accounts on your credit report may not show up on all three reports. The information is always guaranteed to be accurate; it just may not be complete without all three reports. It is also important to check for any errors on all three reports.

If you fix an error on one does not guarantee it will get removed or changed on the reports from the other credit bureaus. There are services where you can get reports from all three reports at the same place which makes life easier, there are also credit monitoring services that help you keep up with changes on your credit report and protects you from identity theft which is prevalent these days.


How long until I get my credit report?

This will depend on how you order your report. If you use the website to obtain your credit reports, you will be able to access and go over them immediately.

If you choose to use the toll-free number to order your reports, you will usually obtain your report within 15 business days. Mailing your annual Credit Report Request will take slightly longer, but you will receive your report within 15 business days after the office receives your request.

3 bureaus

Do I have to order them all at the same time?

No. You can order them one at a time, and even stagger them over a period of time.  Many financial advisors recommend ordering your reports a few months apart, because it will give you a more accurate account of your current credit score and make it easier to look for discrepancies or fraud. You can also use services that provide reports from all three bureaus at the same time. For articles and more information on credit and personal finance also try



According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both you and the credit reporting companies are responsible for correcting any errors on your credit report, but you must contact the company in question to begin any investigation. 

The first option is to report the inaccuracy to the company. This must be done in writing.  Once they have received your request for an inquiry, they have to respond and complete an investigation. This is usually done over the course of 30 days or so. Once the investigation is complete, the company must send you all relevant information and a free copy of your report if the investigation resulted in a change to your credit report.

bad credit

How long will bad credits show up on my report?

All three credit reporting companies will keep information pertaining to negative credits on your report for 7 years.  Anytime you file for bankruptcy, it will remain on your credit report for 10 years.  There is no statute of limitations concerning criminal convictions.

Other information that may be maintained indefinitely includes:

  • Any applications for jobs that pay more than $75,000 annually
  • Any applications for credit of $150,000 or more.  (This includes life insurance)
  • Any information related to lawsuits against you is reported for 7 years, or until the statute of limitations runs out.

correct errors

What else can I do to correct errors?

Your second option is to let the creditor associated with the disputed charge know that you have noticed an error on your credit report in relation to their company.  Most companies will have a specific address or phone number dedicated to handling these disputes. If the information is found to be officially inaccurate, it will be removed from your credit report and the creditor cannot report the information again.

fix error

What if they won’t fix it?

If their investigation doesn’t fix the problem, you can request that a ‘statement of dispute’ be included in your file, and in any and all future credit reports.

You can also request a list of anyone who has obtained a copy of your credit report in the past, but you will be charged for this.


see credit

Who can see my credit report?

There are a number of individuals who can obtain copies of your credit report, for the purposes of determining credit or employment eligibility.  Creditors, insurance agents, employers, and anyone who needs to review your credit for the purposes of granting a line of credit, a loan, an insurance policy, or a job. The individuals who can obtain a copy of your report are outlined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

employment credit report

Can my boss see my credit report?

Yes, if you or they submit your written and signed consent. Employers cannot obtain your credit report without that consent. Read more about the importance and the impact of credit scores...



You are allowed a free credit report anytime you have been denied credit for a 60-day limit of the denial. To apply for a report you need to include your full legal name, your birth date, your current address, your social security number, if you have lived less than 5 years at your current address, then previous addresses and a copy of your driver's license with your current address on it. Sometimes a copy of the SSN is also required. Remember to include a copy of letter of credit denial. You can get a free credit report once a year from however, this will not include your credit score. This free report allows you to review the report for any mistakes, errors or misinformation.



A credit score is calculated from information on your credit report and helps lenders, insurance companies and others considering your for credit worthiness predict how likely you are to pay back your debts.

Why do credit scores matter?

Credit scores, in addition to your credit report determine your credit worthiness, if lenders will give you loans and mortgage, to qualify for insurance and also the rates you pay for these financial services. Are you planning to rent an appartment most landloards get your credit report and score and determine your credit risk for renting you an apartment. Also when you need telephone or gas or electrical service your credit will determine the amount of deposit required to obtain the service.

Lenders continuously look at your records in order to determine your credit card or lending rates any changes could be determined based on major changes to your scores. Usually with better credit scores you are offered better deals, and lower payments and rates. It is important to check your credit score as well your credit report to insure everything is in order and correct. Resolve any situation appearing on your credit report and correct mistakes as soon as you can. Protect your credit score so you can gain financially on all your life financial products.

Usually you are allowed a single yearly free credit report or each time you might be refused a loan, credit report or anything that has included credit worthiness in the process. Read more in articles and find out how to obtain reports and how to monitor your credit to insure you are on top of your financial game and also to protect your identity and credit profile.