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Do you know the difference between your credit report and your credit score? If not, you’re not alone. It can be easy to see these two related items as one and the same. However, if you take a closer look, you may start to see differences in how they impact your financial health. Here are some answers to a few common questions you might have:
A credit report includes information about your past and existing credit agreements, such as credit card accounts, mortgages, and student loans, and lists inquiries about your credit history. It outlines how much you owe creditors, how long each account has been open, and how consistently you make on-time payments. Credit reports also list related public records, such as collections or court judgments against you, tax liens on your property, or bankruptcy filings.
A credit score is like a grade that’s given to your credit report. This three-digit number typically range from 300 to 850, specifically those based on the standard FICO® Score. There are three different credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion – each of which assigns you a credit score. When you request your credit score, you will actually receive three numbers in return, and since the numbers will be coming from different reporting agencies, they may all be different. Please note that your free annual credit report does not automatically include a credit score. Each reporting agency will each charge a fee to show you the credit score they give you.If, once you have your credit score from all three agencies, any of those numbers are drastically different than the others, you may want to look closely at your credit report to see if there are any errors. A high credit score can indicate lower risk to the lender and more likely to qualify for a loan.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers access to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies, which is available through AnnualCreditReport.com. By viewing your credit report, you will be able to know what lenders will see when you apply for a loan. The free annual credit report will not contain your credit score. To access your credit score for a fee, you can contact the credit reporting agencies. There are also credit monitoring services available for a fee that can provide this information for you. Some banks and credit card companies now provide credit scores to their eligible customers.
By understanding your credit report and credit score – and checking them regularly – you can make informed choices that will impact your financial future.
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Credit inquiries are requests by a "legitimate business" to check your credit.