Some of my clients swear that Experian is bugging their phones and reading the mail. The credit report providers know a lot, but they’re not getting the information by rummaging through your trash can
Your credit report contains data compiled from a variety of sources. The sources don’t usually include interviews with friends and family members, though the depth of data may suggest otherwise.
In fact, the Fair Credit Reporting Act contains few limitations on the kind of information that can be added to your credit report.
According to the FTC Staff Commentary, your credit report can contain any information that is considered complete, accurate and not obsolete.
Putting aside the limitations placed on the credit reporting agencies, that leaves the field fairly wide open.
Your credit report will usually contain information such as your name, aliases, current and previous addresses, current and prior employers, phone numbers, your Social Security number, and even your spouse’s name. This is what allows the agencies to match up your file with creditor requests for information. Creditors and others who have a permissible purpose need to be able to access your report, and the only way the credit reporting agencies can ensure they’re giving over the correct file is to have as much data as possible about you.
Credit Account Information
Your credit report will contain information about your current and past credit accounts, including payment histories. This account data, called a tradeline, will include the date the account was opened, date closed (unless it’s still open), credit limit, account balances, date of last payment, and your history of payments. If the account has been charged off or sent to collections, that will appear as well.
There will be a section of your credit report that will contain the particulars of judgments, tax liens, and bankruptcy filings. Included will be the date of filing, the amount of the judgment or lien, and the court in which the filing occurred. If the judgment or lien has been satisfied, that will be shown as well.
The credit report will include the names of those who have obtained copies of your credit report within the past year (two years for employment purposes). The inquiring party’s name, address and date(s) of inquiry or inquiries will show up as well as the general purpose of the inquiry.
Your Consumer Statements
Did you know you’ve got the right to have a statement inserted into your credit report? The FCRA limits you to 100 words, but it can cover just about anything. Some credit reporting agencies allow you to add more than one statement, so this really does give you the opportunity to have a voice to add to what creditors and potential creditors learn about you.
Image credit: chloe delong