Credit reports and credit scores are universally used to evaluate people’s credit. A credit report is a record of your credit activities while a credit score is a number based on those activities. The credit report lists any credit card accounts or loans you may have, how much you owe, and how regularly you make your payments. It also shows if any legal action has been taken against you for unpaid bills. There are usually four sections of a credit report:
You can access your credit report and score from a credit reporting agency. Credit reporting agencies are also known as consumer reporting agencies and credit bureaus. A credit reporting agency collects information about your credit activities and charges a fee for supplying the information. There are three major credit bureaus that operate nationwide: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion plus many smaller companies serving local markets.
Credit reporting agencies can provide information only to the following requestors:
Credit bureaus also furnish reports if required by court orders or federal jury subpoenas. They will also issue your report to a third party if you request this in writing.
Under the state Credit Security Freeze Law, you are allowed to block unauthorized access to your credit reports, which can help prevent identity theft.
Get a free credit report
A more common way to help prevent identity theft and avoid major errors is to get a copy of your credit report periodically. You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To maximize this free service, you can obtain one credit report from a company every four months. These agencies, however, will charge you a fee to access your credit score.