You know you’re supposed to check your credit reports regularly, but you might not know what to look for once you have the report in front of you. Credit reports are lengthy, detailed documents that aren’t always easy to understand. But if you want to stay on top of your credit, you need to know how to read your credit report — and you need to know how to spot mistakes, inconsistencies and signs of fraud so you can correct them. A working knowledge of the weak points in your credit can also motivate you to improve on those areas and build your credit.
To make it easier for you, we’ve taken a sample credit report and annotated it so you can use it as a handy reference for when you pull your credit report. While each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) maintains separate reports, the format is consistent. (You can use a free tool like Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card for a clear overview of the information in your credit report. If something seems amiss, you can do a deeper dive. AnnualCreditReport.com gives you free access to your full credit report once per year from each of the three major CRAs.)
For an easy to understand overview of the information in your credit files, along with your free credit scores, try Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card.
Click on the image below or download the Credit Report Cheat Sheet as a PDF.
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