Credit Reports and Credit Scores

By Kaitlyn Szabo May 24, 2018

Credit Reports and Credit Scores

Learn the difference between credit reports & credit scores, how each are created, and how to build & maintain good credit scores.

Credit Reports

A credit report is a statement of your credit activity, including credit cards, loans, some unpaid medical bills, debt collections, and certain public record entries (e.g. foreclosures). The report also includes personal information to allow creditors to confirm your identity, such as current (and previous) address and current (or last known) employer.

You are legally entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Request your free report(s) at AnnualCreditReport.com, call toll-free 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P. O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Credit Scores

A credit score is a number, based on a complicated scoring model, designed to gauge the likelihood that you will repay money borrowed. This allows lenders to gauge your “creditworthiness” without reviewing your entire credit report. The law does not require the credit reporting companies to provide a free credit score.

You have different credit scores based on the scoring model used. Here is how the FICO model calculates your credit score:

  • 35% based on payment history
  • 30% based on debt/credit utilization
  • 15% based on the age of credit
  • 10% based on the mix of credit
  • 10% credit inquiries

Looking to improve your score? Here are ways to build your credit over time:

  • Pay all bills on time.
  • Keep your credit usage below 30% of your credit limit.
  • Leave old accounts open and active, if they are in good standing.
  • Consider a credit builder loan, if you qualify.
  • Fact-check your credit reports. Dispute any errors immediately.

For more information on credit reports and scores, check out this article from the Balance and review helpful resources from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Money Management E-Newsletter: May 2018