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Credit Report Basics

Obtaining a Credit Report
  • If I am blind or visually impaired, how can I order my credit report in an alternate format such as Braille, Large Print or Audio CD?
  • If you are blind or visually impaired within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act and can provide proof upon request, you are eligible to receive your credit report or score report in an alternate format such as Braille, Large Print or Audio CD. To obtain your report in an alternate format, call 1 888 EXPERIAN (888 397 3742) where you will be prompted to select an alternate format version of your request at the end of the transaction. You may also log on to and obtain your free annual credit report in an alternate format.

    You may order your report for online viewing using our JAWS screen reader-enabled online application here.


  • How do I request my credit report if I live outside the United States?
  • If you are an American citizen living abroad and would like to order a copy of your credit report, send all the following information to Experian, PO Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013.

    • Your full name, including middle initial and generation information
    • Your date of birth
    • Your Social Security number
    • Two proofs of your current mailing address (such as a copy of your driver’s license, utility bill, insurance statement, bank statement or telephone bill that shows your name at your current mailing address)
    • Your previous U.S. address
    • Copy of a government-issued ID card

Understanding Your Credit Report
  • What information is included in my credit report?
  • Your personal credit report contains:

    • Federal district bankruptcy records and state and county court records of tax liens and monetary judgments. This information comes from public records.
    • Specific information about each account, such as the date opened, credit limit or loan amount, balance, monthly payment and payment pattern during the past several years. This information comes from companies that do business with you.
    • The names of those who have obtained a copy of your credit report. (On your copy of your Experian credit report, addresses are included.) This information comes from the credit reporting agency.
    • Your name, current and previous addresses, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, and current and previous employers. Your spouse’s name may appear on your version of the credit report, but it will not appear on the version that is provided to others. This information comes in part from your credit applications, so its accuracy depends on your filling out the forms clearly, completely and consistently each time you apply for credit.
    • Statements of dispute, which allow both consumers and creditors to report the factual history of an account. Statements of dispute are added after a consumer officially disputes the status of an account, the account has been reinvestigated, and the consumer and creditor cannot agree about the account status. Both the consumer’s and creditor’s statements of the account status will appear on the credit report.
    • Positive rental payment history from property management companies that provide their information to Experian’s RentBureau.

    Most of the data Experian has on file is positive, indicating that most people pay their bills on time.


  • What information is not in a credit report?
  • Your Experian credit report does not contain — and Experian does not collect — data about race, religious preference, medical history, personal lifestyle, political preference, friends, criminal record or any other information unrelated to credit.


  • Why aren’t my spouse’s accounts displayed on my credit report?
  • The credit reporting agencies maintain individual credit files for each U.S. resident. They do not maintain combined files for spouses. Therefore, your credit report is separate and different from your spouse’s. Joint credit accounts you have with your spouse will appear on both credit reports.


  • How long does information remain on the credit report?
  • Experian® stores information from credit grantors and public records, including bankruptcies, judgments and liens. Missed payments and most public record items remain on the credit report for seven years, with the exception of Chapter 7, 11 and 12 bankruptcies, which remain for 10 years, and unpaid tax liens, which remain for up to 10 years. Active positive information may remain on the report indefinitely. Requests for your credit history remain on the credit report for up to two years.


  • Why can’t information be deleted from the credit report?
  • Experian stores information from credit grantors and public records in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. When you use credit, a record of your payment history is reported to credit reporting agencies. If you believe the information in the credit report is inaccurate, you may dispute it and we will investigate and correct or remove any inaccurate information or information that cannot be verified.


  • How does a collection account appear on the credit report?
  • Experian does not grant or deny credit. Each credit grantor makes that decision based on its own guidelines. Experian only stores information from credit grantors and public records and supplies this information to other creditors.


  • What’s the difference between a consumer disclosure and a credit report?
  • A consumer disclosure contains a comprehensive history of your credit information, including all inquiries. A credit report contains the same type of credit information and inquiries that a lender or creditor will see when they check your credit. The key difference is that the consumer disclosure includes some inquiries (such as account monitoring and those resulting in preapproved offers) and some address and demographic information that are not displayed on the credit report viewed by lenders. Click here to order your Experian credit file disclosure for $11.50, plus applicable tax.


Improving Your Credit Report
  • What should I do if I find an error in my credit report?
  • First, get a copy of your report and review it carefully. If you find an error, you may dispute it online. You also can call the telephone number on your credit report for assistance if you feel any information is inaccurate or incomplete.

    Please be specific by including the account number of an item you feel is in error and explain exactly why you feel it is inaccurate. Simply saying an item is wrong does not give enough detail to help resolve the issue. Investigations of disputed items can take up to 30 days or up to 45 days for items disputed on an annual free credit report.


  • Can credit repair clinics fix my bad credit?
  • Some consumers pay so-called credit clinics hundreds and even thousands of dollars to fix their credit report, but only time can heal bad credit. Experian credit reports contain easy-to-follow instructions for disputing information at no charge. Information proven to be inaccurate will be changed or deleted. Federal and state laws mandate the amount of time that various credit information remains on a credit report.

    If you need help repaying creditors, managing debt or setting up a personal budget, consider contacting a nonprofit credit counseling organization that offers budgeting and credit management training.


  • Can I improve my credit by paying my rent on time?
  • Yes! Experian incorporates your positive rent payment information within the Experian credit report. This unique opportunity allows consumers to establish or rebuild credit through timely rent payment. This includes homeowners now renting after a foreclosure or a short sale, as well as non-credit-active and cash-based consumers. Better credit means qualifying for credit products that you deserve.


Rent and Credit
  • Why is my rent on my credit report?
  • As of Dec. 15, 2010, Experian began loading rental payment histories into consumers’ credit reports, creating an opportunity for consumers to establish a positive credit history with continuous on-time rental payments.


  • What type of rent information is on my credit report?
  • Only positive rental history has been added to your Experian credit report. If available, Experian will display the 25 most recent months of rental payment history information. Experian RentBureau will not add derogatory information because any negative rental information, such as a collection account, is already reported to credit reporting companies through collection agencies

    Below is an example of how your rent will display on your Credit Report.

    • Subscriber’s name — The subscriber listed on a rental tradeline consists of Experian Data Corp. (EDC) and the name of the property management firm. EDC is the Experian company that manages the RentBureau division.
    • Consumer’s account number — For rental tradelines, this is an internal identifier used to reference a specific lease.
    • Payment history — Payment history during the past 25 months beginning with the month represented by the balance date. The codes reflect the status of the account for each month. “OK” in the payment history grid would represent a current (paying as agreed) status.
    • Date opened — For rental tradelines, this date would represent the lease start date or move-in date
    • Date of status — Date the property manager reported update on the account
    • Type — Rental tradelines are reported as “installment” loan types
    • Terms — For rental tradelines, this number represents the terms on the lease. In this example, “12” indicates that the consumer has a 12-month lease.
    • Monthly payment — Dollar amount represents the monthly rent amount the consumer is scheduled to pay.
    • Credit limit or original loan amount — Dollar amount represents the sum of the total payments over the entire period of the lease agreement. For example, a 12-month lease $1,000 monthly rent payment would add up to $12,000 (12 months x $1,000). Note: This does not imply that the consumer received loan proceeds in the amount of $12,000 or have revolving debt of that amount.
    • Recent balance — Represents the sum of all rental payments left on the lease. The balance denotes the total amount for which the consumer will be responsible over the remainder of the lease. In the example above, this amount is expected to be paid in monthly installments of $1,115.
    • Recent payment — Dollar amount represents the monthly rent amount the consumer paid during the scheduled period.
    • Responsibility — Describe consumer’s association to the account per the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
    • Status — Comments reflect the payment history of the account as of the balance date.

  • How will lenders use my rent information?
  • Lenders may use your rental obligation as one of the factors when determining your ability to pay any new debt. Because your rental payment history is now part of the standard credit report, it may also be incorporated into credit scores used by lenders to make credit-granting decisions. Each credit grantor decides what standards you must meet for it to grant you credit.


  • Why does my rent appear as an installment loan?
  • Your rent is intended to be similar to an auto lease, which is considered installment credit. Installment credit consists of paying regular installments of a fixed amount over a set period of time, usually measured in months or years. An installment loan does not imply that loan proceeds were received by the consumer as part of the transaction.


  • Why does my credit report show a credit limit for my apartment lease when it is not a line of credit?
  • Experian calculates an “original loan amount” which represents the sum of the total payments over the entire period of the lease agreement. For example, a 12-month lease with a $1,000 monthly rent payment would add up to $12,000 (12 months x $1,000). We are aware that some credit report systems display this amount as credit limit. Note: This does not imply that the consumer received loan proceeds in the amount of $12,000 or have revolving debt of that amount.


Fraud Prevention and Identity Theft
  • How do I place a fraud alert?
  • Visit our Credit Fraud Center to add an initial security alert and immediately view your report for any potential fraudulent activity. You also may call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742) to add a security alert. Consumers do not receive a copy of their report when placing a security alert by phone.


Understanding Credit Agencies
  • How does a credit reporting agency help me?
  • If you’re like most consumers in the United States, your ability to own a home, purchase a car, fund a college education, travel and make routine purchases hinges on your responsible use of credit. Because an automated credit reporting system run by national consumer credit reporting agencies works quietly in the background, you have unlimited options in your financial life. For example, you can:

    • Purchase a home in one area of the country based on the good credit record you established while living in another part of the country
    • Shop for and be offered financial services from institutions in other regions of the country
    • Negotiate a deal for a new car, and drive it off the lot within a few hours

    Credit reporting also helps foster intense competitive marketing among financial services providers. This competition provides you with:

    • Lower interest rates
    • Reduced annual fees
    • Special toll-free customer service phone numbers
    • Customer recognition programs
    • Purchase protection plans and many other benefits



  • Does Experian approve or deny credit?
  • Experian does not grant or deny credit. Each credit grantor makes that decision based on its own guidelines. Experian only stores information from credit grantors and public records and supplies this information to other creditors.


I Need Help
  • How can I contact a customer service representative?
  • Experian can best assist a consumer who has first obtained a copy of his or her personal credit report. To obtain a copy, order now or call 1 888 EXPERIAN (1 888 397 3742). Once you receive your report, it will display the appropriate contact phone number or address. In order to speak to an Experian customer service representative about your personal credit report, you will first be required to enter your report number.


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