Study a credit report with a magnifying glass

With so much information on a credit report you may struggle with the idea of conducting a comprehensive review.

Where do you start? What do you look for? Which information is most important? All of these questions will be rolling through your mind.

While there is no right or wrong way to conduct a credit report review, there are some basic things to look for when doing so.

Generally speaking, there are five sections that deserve your attention:

1. Personal Information

It’s a must that your personal information be 100 percent accurate, which includes the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Birth date
  • Social Security number

This sounds like something that would never be wrong, but don’t be surprised if you find a mistake or two.

Note: employer history may also be included in this section.

2. Consumer Statements

It’s easy to overlook this section because it’s not always full of information. This is where you’ll find any statements you’ve submitted to one of the credit bureaus in the past. For instance, if you had to file a dispute as a result of inaccurate information, it’ll be listed here.

3. Account Information

This is where you’ll really begin your review. All of your accounts are listed here, with details including:

  • Open accounts
  • Closed accounts
  • Payment history
  • Dates associated with open and closed accounts
  • Loan payment status
  • Account balances
  • Credit utilization

You’re looking for a lot of things here, including information on late payments.

4. Inquiries

Did you know that too many hard inquiries could drag down your credit score? You need to be careful of this when applying for loans, such as when buying a vehicle.

Also, keep in mind that a hard inquiry that you didn’t authorize could be the result of someone trying to secure credit in your name.

5. Public Records

There are many things that can make its way into this section, ranging from tax liens to foreclosures to bankruptcy. All of these things can impact your credit score, so review carefully for accuracy.

It’s imperative to spend enough time on each of these five sections. This will ensure that you fully understand your credit report, including any errors that need rectified.

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