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Understanding Credit Reports 

A Credit Report is a document that contains information about one's credit history, including every line of credit ever obtained and track record for making repayments. A person's credit report is the single most important document lenders use to determine credit worthiness. Along with a credit score, the credit report will have the effect of defining whether a person's credit is deemed excellent or poor. 

Finding A Credit Reporting Service

In America, only 3 credit reporting bureaus are allowed to issue official credit reports. Those bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These reports may be obtained from multiple reporting agencies, either under a free or for-pay model. Free retrieval of one or more of your credit reports is generally possible once per year, and not all agencies will offer all 3 bureau reports simultaneously. 

It is recommended, when conducting a credit check, to find a service that provides all three credit reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). For those interested in keeping an eye on their credit rating beyond a one-time glimpse of what they look like to potential lenders, it may be worth choosing a paid service which offers a consistent influx of reports on what is happening to their credit – on a monthly or quarterly basis.  

With the multitude of credit reporting sites out there, make sure to watch out for scam sites that offer free credit reports, as this offer can be a way to trap you into revealing personal information. To that end, it is always a good idea to purchase an ID Theft protection service along with your credit reporting package.   

Why Do Credit Reports Matter?

Knowing the state of your credit worthiness in the eyes of lenders allows one to prepare for the future. This knowledge can be considered the first step toward financial growth, and the credit report can be seen as a person's business card for potential lenders, property owners and even employers.   

There may be information in the credit report that is false. For example, there may be a comments in your report to the effect of late or overdue payments, checks that didn't clear and the likes. If this information is correct, it is useful to know as as means of avoiding such situations in the future. If this information is mistaken, it is crucial to dispute false information eith your bank or credit card company, as it may be adversely affecting your credit score. 

More seriously, if somebody has stolen your identity, you may find evidence of this in your credit report. Those who feel that any information on their credit statement is false will be able to dispute it. They will also be able to see if their credit history showcases bankruptcy, a court judgment, or foreclosure. This information should only be part of someone's credit history for a set period of time.   

Credit Scoring 

Credit score is a number that is used to represent a person's creditworthiness. This number is determined by giving a score to certain variables in someone's credit history. The higher their credit score, the easier it will be for them to obtain credit, and it will usually mean that they pay a lower interest rate.    

FICO Credit Score 

FICO is the most commonly used credit scoring system in the United States. The score is determined based on five variables: Amount of money you owe Types of credit you have obtained New credit you have obtained Length of credit history Payment history – this accounts for 35 per cent of your overall score. Your FICO score can indicate the following: Less than 640 – this is a very low score, and it will mean that you will struggle to get credit, and you will probably have to pay high interest rates when you do get credit. 641 to 680 – this is a reasonable score, but you will probably have to pay higher than average interest rates. 681 to 720 – this is a good score, and you should easily find lines of credit and be able to get attractive interest rates. Above 721 – you have an excellent credit score, and creditors will want you as a customer. You should have no difficulty obtaining a good interest rate.  Vantage3 Credit Scoring The other popular credit scoring system used in the US is Vantage3. This model is used by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. It looks at 6 variables: Utilization of credit – this is the amount of credit you use in relation to the amount of credit that is currently available to you. Recent credit Credit balances Depth of credit Payment history The scoring results for Vantage3 can be interpreted in the same way as FICO scores.  

The Difference Between a Credit Report and a Credit Score 

A credit report will contain a great deal more information about a person's credit history than a credit score. It will show their record for making payments, and it will have additional information such as the number of times there have been queries about their credit history. The credit score is usually provided as part of a credit report. It is an easy way for creditors to quickly determine their creditworthiness.   Finding the Best Credit Monitoring Service By focusing your attention on finding the best credit monitoring service for you, you will potentially be saving yourself from future financial headaches down the road. With credit monitoring, a person will be able to get on track to good credit easier, and to ensure the accurate reporting of their credit history and identity. 

At, we have reviewed the top credit services to help you make a more well-informed financial decision. Our credit monitoring reviews can help you decide which service has the monitoring tools you need.