What should I review on my credit report?

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Bryan Smith - January, 24 2023

5 min read

About the author

Content Manager at Prodigy Finance, helping international students gear up to study abroad

Why is it important to review your credit report annually?

Annual credit report reviews are essential to make sure that what is contained in your credit report accurately reflects your borrowing history.

As borrowing responsibly and repaying your loans timeously is essential, mistakes on your credit report may influence future credit applications and could jeopardize future credit applications, and could lower your credit score erroneously.

Reviewing your credit report to ensure that your personal information is up-to-date and ensuring that all your listed credit applications and repayments are listed accurately can enable you to pursue future credit opportunities with confidence.

How can I review my credit report?

In many countries, you are legally entitled to view your credit report for free at least once a year. To do so, you’ll need to contact your relevant credit bureau and inform them that you wish to review your report.

Your credit bureau will vary between countries and multiple reports may be available between different bureaus in turn.

In some cases, paid or pay-per-use platforms may enable you to either review your credit report freely, or subscribe for an annual fee to review your report as many times as you will need.

Some popular examples include:

How do I find out what is on my credit report?

You can request a copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies in the United States - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Under US law, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of these agencies every 12 months.

To request your credit report:

  1. Go to annualcreditreport.com, which is the only official site for obtaining your free credit report.
  2. Click on the link to request your credit report.
  3. Follow the prompts to enter your personal information, including your name, address, social security number, and date of birth.
  4. Choose which credit reporting agency you want to request your credit report from. You can request all three at the same time, or request one at a time.
  5. Review and verify the information you have entered to make sure it is correct.
  6. Submit your request and wait for your credit report to be delivered to you. This process may take several days or weeks, depending on the credit reporting agency you choose.

What are the four main sections of my credit report?

There are four main sections of a credit report:

Personal Information: This section includes your name, current and past addresses, phone number, social security number, and date of birth.

Credit History: This section lists your credit accounts, including credit cards, loans, and other types of credit. It includes information about the creditor, the type of credit, the credit limit or loan amount, and the current balance. It also includes payment history and whether the account is in good standing or has been delinquent.

Public Records: This section includes any bankruptcies, foreclosures, lawsuits, or liens that have been filed against you.

Inquiries: This section lists any credit inquiries that have been made about you, including when the inquiry was made and by whom. Credit inquiries occur when a lender or creditor checks your credit as part of a credit application.

What should you look for on your credit reports?

Unknown address on your credit report

In some cases, statements being issued on your overall credit report may contain an erroneous address, or your credit report may contain a mismatch addressed.

Unknown public records on your credit report

Data mismatches may also result in various public records being mistakenly listed on your credit report - such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, and lawsuits.

If you find an erroneous public record, it is in your interest to contact your relevant credit bureau immediately - as these listings may severely impact or limit your ability to apply for new lines of credit.

Wrong phone numbers on your credit report

Lastly, your credit bureau may have mistakenly listed an incorrect phone number on your credit report, which may cause a mismatch if you are attempting to apply for credit.

Can I dispute public records on my credit report?

You can dispute public records on your credit report if you believe they are incorrect or if the information is outdated. Public records on your credit report can include bankruptcies, foreclosures, lawsuits, and liens.

To dispute a public record on your credit report, you will need to follow the dispute process outlined by the credit reporting agency that is reporting the information. This typically involves:

  1. Gathering evidence to support your dispute. This could include court documents, proof of payment, or other relevant documents.
  2. Contacting the credit reporting agency and explaining why you believe the public record is incorrect or outdated.
  3. Submitting your dispute and any supporting documentation to the credit reporting agency.
  4. Waiting for the credit reporting agency to investigate your dispute and respond to you. This process may take several weeks or months.

If the credit reporting agency determines that the public record is incorrect or outdated, it will be removed from your credit report. If the credit reporting agency determines that the public record is accurate, it will remain on your credit report.

It's important to be patient and persistent when disputing public records on your credit report. If you believe the information is incorrect, it's worth the effort to try to have it corrected. Having incorrect or outdated information on your credit report can have a negative impact on your credit score and your ability to obtain credit.

Can disputes hurt your credit report?

Disputing incorrect or outdated information on your credit report should not hurt your credit score, as long as you follow the proper procedures and provide evidence to support your dispute. In fact, disputing errors on your credit report can actually improve your credit score if the errors are causing your score to be lower than it should be.

However, it's important to be aware that some credit scoring models may temporarily decrease your credit score when a dispute is filed, even if the dispute is found to be valid. This is because the credit scoring model may view the dispute as a sign of potential financial instability.
If you are considering disputing information on your credit report, it's a good idea to check with the credit reporting agency to see if they offer any guidance on how to minimize the potential impact on your credit score.

Overall, disputing errors on your credit report is generally a good idea, as it can help to ensure that your credit report accurately reflects your credit history. If you believe that there are errors on your credit report, it's important to take action to have them corrected as soon as possible.

What else should I know?

If you’d like to learn more about credit reports, you can explore our in-depth guide which can help you learn more about your credit score, and where you can access it.

If you’re applying for a Prodigy Finance loan and have questions about using your credit report during your application, you can find answers to all your questions here.

Disclaimer: The contents of this guide are intended as an overview for illustrative and educational purposes and do not constitute an endorsement of any service mentioned.

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