Making sense of your credit report

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There are four main sections of your credit report

Personal information:

This section contains your name, address (past and present), Social Security number, date of birth, etc.

Credit history:

Here you’ll find a list of your credit accounts, both open and closed, as well as payment history information. If you have unused or unnecessary credit cards, you may want to reevaluate the value of those accounts.

Public records:

Information from collection agencies appears in this section, including delinquent accounts, bankruptcies, foreclosures, lawsuits, tax liens and judgments. If you have any of these, focus on adding to your positive credit history.

Credit inquiries:

In this section you’ll find a list of everyone who has asked to see your credit report in the last two years for hard and soft inquiries.

Get a free copy of your credit report: Federal law requires each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—to give you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. You can request a free copy of your credit report at

Building up your credit report

When to check your credit

Check your credit report at least three months in advance of applying for a mortgage—or further in advance if you’ve never seen your credit score before—to potentially correct any problems.

Late or missed payments

If you have negative marks on your credit report, pay any delinquencies and ask furnishers to remove inaccurate information. Wait to have at least six months of current payments before applying for a mortgage—the older a delinquency, the better your credit looks.

Thin credit history

If you don’t have enough credit history, consider adding one or two revolving credit accounts and, of course, pay your bill on time every month.

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The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

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