About Credit Reports and Credit Scores

A credit report gives specific details of your credit history and includes:

  • past and current debt obligations
  • collection accounts or credit obligations in default
  • public records
  • requests for credit
  • account opening dates
  • loan amounts
  • current balances
  • payment history

Your credit score is a number based on a mathematical calculation created using information from your credit report.

There are three main credit reporting agencies including Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Creditors work with these agencies to report their customers’ credit histories in exchange for receiving credit reports on applicants before extending credit. The information in each of the credit reports may vary since not all creditors report to all three credit bureaus. Because of this, it’s beneficial to obtain a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus annually.

Order and carefully review your credit report(s) by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Look for suspicious activity, addresses and/or accounts that you don’t recognize to ensure your credit information is accurate. You may obtain one free credit report from each of the three main credit reporting agencies once a year. We recommend ordering one credit report from a different credit reporting agency every four months.

Your credit score does not show on your credit report. Credit scores can be obtained from each of the three main credit bureaus for a fee. Each agency charges a different fee and each score may be different based on the information that is submitted to that particular credit bureau and the way the agency is calculating the score. Many credit cards provide credit scores as an added benefit.

If an error is identified on your credit report, the credit reporting agency and the creditor reporting the information are responsible for making the correction.

  • Dispute the mistake in writing to the credit reporting agency and to the creditor. Be sure to include your name and address and all copies of any documents that support your claim.
  • The dispute letter must include each item in the report that is being disputed along with an explanation why you are asking for the information to be removed or corrected.
  • Keep a copy of your request along with all supporting documents. Use certified mail to send the dispute and request a return receipt.

For more information about how to dispute errors found on your credit report, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at ftc.gov.

If you have not yet established credit or don’t have perfect credit, below are a few things to build and improve your credit history. You can also talk to your local banker to discuss ways that meet your individual circumstances:

  • Establish a checking and/or savings account
  • Pay bills on time
  • Create a budget and stick to the plan
  • Request a free annual credit report and verify all information is correct
  • Resolve any discrepancies quickly.

Having strong credit can be very beneficial.