Understanding Your Credit Report: Taking a Close Look at Each Component

You are ready to tackle your bad credit and you want to increase your credit score so you just ordered your credit report. But, if you are like most people, you have a hard time understanding what your credit report means let alone interpreting all of the information it contains.

Although each credit reporting agency may have a slightly different format, all credit reports contain basically the same categories of information.

We at MCMF have created a list of everything included in your credit report.   

Please review each item for accuracy. 

Personal Information

  • Your name, spouse’s name, Social Security number, birth date
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Current and previous employers
  • Comes from your past credit applications


  • An overview of your accounts and credit profile
  • Use to compare information from all three credit bureaus

Account History

  • An account record all of your creditors i.e., credit cards, installment and mortgage loans, and other sources
  • Includes date opened, amount, balance, monthly payment and payment pattern going back several years
  • Shows how much credit you have and how you’ve repaid your debts – on time or past due
  • Includes if you have a payment plan or arrangement with a creditor, if the account was turned over for foreclosure or repossession or if it was in collection
  • Creditors are especially interested in your  last 24 months of payment history.  This helps them predict how you will pay in the future.
  • Can stay on your report for up to 7 years 

Public Record Information

  • Bankruptcy, foreclosure, tax liens, monetary judgments, court ordered alimony and child support, garnishment
  • Bankruptcy information can stay on your report for up to 10 years

Inquiry Information

  • Shows who asked for your credit report within the past two years.
  • Pre-approved offers and on-going inquiries from companies that you do business with will not affect your credit score. 
  • Filling out too many credit applications can have harmful effects on your credit score.
  • It’s wise not to have more than six inquiries a year.

Consumer Statement

  • Can attach up to 100 word statement to your report.
  • Can explain a change in your payment history –for example, why you were late making payments.
  • Only mortgage lenders review the consumer statement.

Alert Messages

  • Military alert or fraud alert from being a victim of identity theft.
  • Fraud alert is good for 90 days and can be extended for seven years



About jenniferhamby

Jennifer Hamby, Executive Vice President of My Credit My Future, has worked in the financial sector since 1996. She is dedicated to educating consumers on financial education and responsibility. Having worked in Data Facts’ Nashville office since 2007 as an account executive, Hamby realized the need for financial education that was informative, yet easy to understand and attainable. Partnering with both Junior Achievement, and Tennessee Jump$tart, in providing financial education, opened her eyes to the tremendous benefits in providing financial literacy and resources for consumers to aid in making better financial decisions.
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