What’s in Your Credit Report, Anyway?

Past Due StampWhen you have credit accounts, such as credit cards, auto loans, student loans, or mortgages, the creditor gathers identifying information about you.  A creditor will likely want to know things like your social security number, address, and telephone number.  Because the creditor is lending money to you, they may also want information about your employment and income.

Once an account is opened, your creditors will periodically submit basic information about the account to one or more of the three major credit-reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  The credit bureau then compiles the information into a single credit report.  Keep in mind that because each creditor may choose to report to one, two or all three of the major credit bureaus, each of your 3 credit reports may differ slightly.

The information submitted may include:

  • Account numbers
  • Age of the account,
  • Payment history, including whether you make payments on time or late,
  • Current balance,
  • In the case of a revolving or credit card account, your credit limit (with your current balance, this is called a “utilization ratio”),
  • Other status information about the account, such as whether it’s been referred for collection, settled, or charged off by the lender as bad debt.

The report may also include information about whether you have applied for credit, whether or not you were approved, as well as information about your past known addresses and employers.  If you have ever applied for credit under a different name, such as a maiden name or a different name other than your full legal name, those will probably appear as well.

One potential problem with credit reports is that they don’t typically list medical debts, which can be a large category of creditors for a consumer considering bankruptcy.  Medical debts are excluded from credit reports in most cases for privacy concerns.  However, if the debt has been referred for collection purposes, the collecting agency may then report the debt to credit reporting bureaus.  Additionally, some creditors, such as payday loan lenders and many small businesses, don’t report to credit bureaus at all.  It’s important to tell your attorney if you believe you have a creditor who may not be listed in your credit report.  Even if you don’t have a statement or know the exact amount owed, we can usually find enough information to be sure the creditor is listed in your bankruptcy case.