Credit Education » FAQs » Glossary

Glossary

  • Account Condition
    Indicates the present state of the account, but does not indicate the payment history of the account that led to the current state. (i.e. open, paid, charge off, repossession, settled, foreclosed, etc).
  • Account number
    The unique number assigned by a creditor to identify your account with them. Experian removes several digits of each account number on the credit report as a fraud prevention measure.
  • Accounts in Good Standing
    Credit items that have a positive status and should reflect favorably on your creditworthiness.
  • Adjustment
    Percentage of the debt that is to be repaid to the credit grantors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • AKA
    Also Known As
  • Annual fee
    Credit card issuers often (but not always) require you to pay a special charge once a year for the use of their service, usually between $15 and $55.
  • Annual percentage rate (APR)
    A measure of how much interest credit will cost you, expressed as an annual percentage.
  • Authorized User
    Person permitted by a credit cardholder to charge goods and services on the cardholder’s account but who is not responsible for repayment of the debt. The account displays on the credit reports of the cardholder as well as the authorized user. If you wish to have your name permanently removed as an authorized user on an account, you will need to notify the credit grantor.
  • Balloon Payments
    A loan with a balloon payment requires that a single, lump-sum payment be made at the end of the loan.
  • Bankruptcy Code
    Federal laws governing the conditions and procedures under which persons claiming inability to repay their debts can seek relief.
  • Capacity
    Factor in determining creditworthiness. Capacity is assessed by weighing a borrower’s earning ability and the likelihood of continuing income against the amount of debt the borrower carries at the time the application for credit is made. While capacity may be considered in a credit decision, the credit report does not contain information about earning ability or the likelihood of continuing income.
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
    Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code that provides for court administered liquidation of the assets of a financially troubled individual or business.
  • Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
    Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code that is usually used for the reorganization of a financially troubled business. Used as an alternative to liquidation under Chapter 7. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an individual may also use Chapter 11.
  • Chapter 12 Bankruptcy
    Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code adopted to address the financial crisis of the nation’s farming community. Cases under this chapter are administered like Chapter 11 cases, but with special protections to meet the special conditions of family farm operations.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
    Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code in which debtors repay debts according to a plan accepted by the debtor, the creditors and the court. Plan payments usually come from the debtor’s future income and are paid to creditors through the court system and the bankruptcy trustee.
  • Charge Off
    Action of transferring accounts deemed uncollectible to a category such as bad debt or loss. Collectors will usually continue to solicit payments, but the accounts are no longer considered part of a company’s receivable or profit picture.
  • Civil Action
    Any court action against a consumer to regain money for someone else. Usually, it will be a wage assignment, child support judgment, small claims judgment or a civil judgment.
  • Claim Amount
    The amount awarded in a court action.
  • Closed Date
    The date an account was closed.
  • Co-maker
    A creditworthy co-maker is sometimes required in situations where an applicant’s qualifications are marginal. A co-maker is legally responsible to repay the charges in the joint account agreement.
  • Consumer Credit Counseling Service
    A non-profit organization that assists consumers in dealing with their credit problems. Consumer Credit Counseling Service has offices throughout the United States that can be located by calling 800 388 CCCS (2227).
  • Cosigner
    Person who pledges in writing as part of a credit contract to repay the debt if the borrower fails to do so. The account displays on both the borrower’s and the cosigner’s credit reports.
  • Credit Limit/Line of Credit
    In open-end credit, the maximum amount a borrower can draw upon or the maximum that an account can show as outstanding.
  • Credit Items
    Information reported by current or past creditors.
  • Credit Report
    Confidential report on a consumer’s payment habits as reported by their creditors to a consumer credit reporting agency. The agency provides the information to credit grantors who have a permissible purpose under the law to review the report.
  • Credit Scoring
    Tool used by credit grantors to provide an objective means of determining risks in granting credit. Credit scoring increases efficiency and timely response in the credit granting process. Credit scoring criteria is set by the credit grantor.
  • Creditworthiness
    The ability of a consumer to receive favorable consideration and approval for the use of credit from an establishment to which they applied.
  • Date Filed
    The date that a public record was awarded.
  • Date of Status
    This is the date the creditor last updated the account. This date does not affect how long an account remains on the report, and should not be confused with the “Original Delinquency Date.”
  • Date Opened
    On the credit report, indicates the date an account was opened.
  • Date Resolved
    The completion date or satisfaction date of a public record item.
  • Delinquent
    Accounts classified into categories according to the time past due. Common classifications are 30, 60, 90 and 120 days past due. Special classifications also include charge-off, repossession, transferred, etc.
  • Discharge
    Granted by the court to release a debtor from most of his debts that were included in a bankruptcy. Any debts not included in the bankruptcy – alimony, child support, liability for willful and malicious conduct and certain student loans – cannot be discharged.
  • Disclosure
    Providing the consumer with his or her credit history as required by the FCRA. Experian provides consumer credit report disclosures via the Internet, by U.S. Mail or in person at our office location in Santa Ana, CA.
  • Dismissed
    When a consumer files a bankruptcy, the judge may decide to not allow the consumer to continue with the bankruptcy. If the judge rules against the petition, the bankruptcy is known as dismissed.
  • Dispute
    If a consumer believes an item of information on their credit report is inaccurate or incomplete, they may challenge, or dispute the item. Experian will investigate and correct or remove any inaccurate information or information that cannot be verified. Experian gives consumers the option of disputing online or they may call the telephone number on their credit report for assistance.
  • ECOA
    Standard abbreviation for Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
  • End-user
    The business that receives the report for decision making purposes that meet the permissible purpose requirements of the FCRA.
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)
    Federal law, which prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of sex, marital status, race, color, religion, age, and/or receipt of public assistance.
  • Equifax
    One of the three national credit reporting agencies, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. The other two are Experian and TransUnion.
  • Experian
    One of the three national credit reporting agencies, with U.S. headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA. The other two are Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act
    Amendments to the Truth In Lending Act that require the disclosure of the costs involved in credit card plans that are offered by mail, telephone or applications distributed to the general public.
  • Fair Credit Billing Act
    Federal legislation that provides a specific error resolution procedure to protect credit card customers from making payments on inaccurate billings.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
    Federal legislation governing the actions of credit reporting agencies.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
    Federal legislation prohibiting abusive and unfair debt collection practices.
  • Finance Charge
    Amount of interest. Finance charges are usually included in the monthly payment total.
  • First Reported
    The date when the first account status was reported by the account holder.
  • Fixed Rate
    An annual percentage rate that does not change.
  • Generation Identifier
    Generation identifiers are Jr., Sr., II, III, IV, etc.
  • Geographical Code
    This information is received from the Census Bureau and represents the state, Metropolitan Statistical Area, county, tract and block group of the reported address. This code is similar to a ZIP Code™.
  • Grace Period
    The time period you have to pay a bill in full and avoid interest charges.
  • Guarantor
    Person responsible for paying a bill.
  • High Balance
    The highest amount that you have owed on an account to date.
  • Installment Credit
    Credit accounts in which the debt is divided into amounts to be paid successively at specified intervals.
  • Investigation
    The process a consumer credit reporting agency goes through in order to verify credit report information disputed by a consumer. The credit grantor who supplied the information is contacted and asked to review the information and report back; they will tell the credit reporting agency that the information is accurate as it appears, or they will give us corrected information to update the report.
  • Investigative Consumer Reports
    These are consumer reports that are usually done for background checks, security clearances and other sensitive jobs. An investigative consumer report might contain information obtained from a credit report, but it is more comprehensive than a credit report. It contains subjective material on an individual’s character, habits and mode of living, which is obtained through interviews of associates. Experian does not provide investigative consumer reports.
  • Involuntary Bankruptcy
    A petition filed by certain credit grantors to have a debtor judged bankrupt. If the bankruptcy is granted, it is known as an involuntary bankruptcy.
  • Item-specific Statement
    Offers an explanation about a particular trade or public record item on your report, and it displays with that item on the credit report.
  • Judgment Granted
    The determination of a court upon matters submitted to it. A final determination of the rights of the parties involved in the lawsuit.
  • Last Reported
    On the credit report, the date the creditor last reported information about the account.
  • Liability amount
    Amount for which you are legally obligated to a creditor.
  • Lien
    Legal document used to create a security interest in another’s property. A lien is often given as a security for the payment of a debt. A lien can be placed against a consumer for failure to pay the city, county, state or federal government money that is owed. It means that the consumer’s property is being used as collateral during repayment of the money that is owed.
  • Line of Credit
    In open-end credit, the maximum amount a borrower can draw upon or the maximum that an account can show as outstanding.
  • Location Number
    The book and page number on which the item is filed in the court records.
  • Mortgage Identification Number (MIN)
    Indicates that a loan is registered with Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., which tracks the ownership of mortgage rights. This number will follow the homeowner throughout the mortgage.
  • Most Recent Date
    The date of the recent account condition or payment status. This date is also the balance date.
  • Notice of Results
    If your investigation results in information being updated or deleted, you may request that we send the corrected information in your credit history to eligible credit grantors and employers who reviewed your information within a specific period of time. If your investigation does not result in a change to your credit history, results will not be sent to other lenders.
  • Obsolescence
    A term used to describe how long negative information should stay in a credit file before it’s not relevant to the credit granting decision. The FCRA has determined the obsolescence period to be 10 years in the case of bankruptcy and 7 years in all other instances. Unpaid tax liens may remain indefinitely, although Experian removes them after 15 years.
  • Opt In
    The ability of a consumer who has opted out to have their name re-added to prescreened credit and insurance offer lists, direct marketing lists and individual reference service lists. Consumers who have previously opted out of receiving prescreened offers may have their names added to prescreened lists for credit and insurance offers by calling 1 888 5OPTOUT (1 888 567 8688).
  • Opt Out
    The ability of the consumer to notify credit reporting agencies, direct marketers and list compilers to remove their name from all future lists. Consumers may opt out of prescreened credit and insurance offer lists by calling 1 888 5OPTOUT (1 888 567 8688).
  • Original Amount
    The original amount owed to a creditor.
  • Original Delinquency Date
    The original delinquency date is the date an account first became delinquent and after which it was never again brought current.
  • Payment Status
    Reflects the previous history of the account, including any delinquencies or derogatory conditions occurring during the previous seven years (i.e., Current account, delinquent 30, current was 60, redeemed repossession, charge-off – now paying, etc.)
  • Permissible Purposes
    There are legally defined permissible purposes for a credit report to be issued to a third party. Permissible purposes include credit transactions, employment purposes, insurance underwriting, government financial responsibility laws, court orders, subpoenas, written instructions of the consumer, legitimate business needs, etc.
  • Personal Information
    Information on your personal credit report associated with your records that has been reported to us by you, your creditors and other sources. It may include name variations, your driver’s license number, Social Security number variations, your date or year of birth, your spouse’s name, your employers, your telephone numbers, and information about your residence.
  • Personal Statement
    You may request that a general explanation about the information on your report be added to your report. The statement remains for two years and displays to anyone who reviews your credit information.
  • Petition
    If a consumer files a bankruptcy, but a judge has not yet ruled that it can proceed, it is known as bankruptcy petitioned.
  • Plaintiff
    One who initially brings legal action against another (defendant) seeking a court decision.
  • Potentially Negative Items
    Any potentially negative credit items or public records that may have an effect on your creditworthiness as viewed by creditors.
  • Public Record Data
    Included as part of the credit report, this information is limited to tax liens, lawsuits and judgments that relate to the consumer’s debt obligations.
  • Recent Balance
    The most recent balance owed on an account as reported by the creditor.
  • Recent Payment
    The most recent amount paid on an account as reported by the creditor.
  • Released
    This means that a lien has been satisfied in full.
  • Report Number
    A number that uniquely identifies each personal Experian credit report. This number displays on your personal credit report and should always be referenced when you contact us.
  • Reported Since
    On the credit report, the date the creditor started reporting the account to Experian.
  • Repossession
    A creditor’s taking possession of property pledged as collateral on a loan contract on which a borrower has fallen significantly behind in payments.
  • Request an Investigation
    If you believe that information on your report is inaccurate, we will ask the sources of the information to check their records at no cost to you. Incorrect information will be corrected; information that cannot be verified will be deleted. Experian cannot remove accurate information. An investigation may take up to 30 days. When it is complete, we’ll send you the results.
  • Request for Your Credit History
    When a credit grantor, direct marketer or potential employer makes a request for information from a consumer’s credit report, an inquiry is shown on the report. Grantors only see credit inquiries generated by other grantors as a result of an application of some kind, while consumers see all listed inquiries including prescreened and direct marketing offers, as well as employment inquiries. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit grantors with a permissible purpose may inquire about your credit information prior to your consent. This section also includes the date of the inquiry and how long the inquiry will remain on your report.
  • Responsibility
    Indicates who is responsible for an account; can be single, joint, cosigner, etc.
  • Revolving Account
    Credit automatically available up to a predetermined maximum limit so long as a customer makes regular payments.
  • Risk Scoring Models
    A numerical determination of a consumer’s creditworthiness. Tool used by credit grantors to predict future payment behavior of a consumer.
  • Satisfied
    If the consumer has paid all of the money the court says he owes, the public record item is satisfied.
  • Secured Credit
    Loan for which some form of acceptable collateral, such as a house or automobile has been pledged.
  • Security
    Real or personal property that a borrower pledges for the term of a loan. Should the borrower fail to repay, the creditor may take ownership of the property by following legally mandated procedures.
  • Security Alert
    Statement that is added once Experian is notified that a consumer may be a victim of fraud. It remains on file for 90 days and requests that a creditor request proof of identification before granting credit in that person’s name.
  • Service Credit
    Agreements with service providers. You receive goods, such as electricity, and services, such as apartment rental and health club memberships, with the agreement that you will pay for them each month. Your contract may require payments for a specific number of months, even if you stop the service.
  • Settle
    Reach an agreement with a lender to repay only part of the original debt.
  • Source
    The business or organization that supplied certain information that appears on the credit report.
  • Status
    On the credit report, this indicates the current status or state of the account.
  • Terms
    This refers to the debt repayment terms of your agreement with a creditor, such as 60 months, 48 months, etc.
  • Third-Party Collectors
    Collectors who are under contract to collect debts for a credit department or credit company; collection agency.
  • Tradeline
    Entry by a credit grantor to a consumer’s credit history maintained by a credit reporting agency. A tradeline describes the consumer’s account status and activity. Tradeline information includes names of companies where the applicant has accounts, dates accounts were opened, credit limits, types of accounts, balances owed and payment histories.
  • Transaction fees
    Fees charged for certain use of your credit line – for example, to get a cash advance from an ATM.
  • TransUnion
    One of three national credit reporting agencies. The other two are Experian and Equifax.
  • Truth in Lending Act
    Title I of the Consumer Protection Act. Requires that most categories of lenders disclose the annual interest rate, the total dollar cost and other terms of loans and credit sales.
  • Type
    This refers to the type of credit agreement made with a creditor; for example, a revolving account or installment loan.
  • Unsecured Credit
    Credit for which no collateral has been pledged. Loans made under this arrangement are sometimes called signature loans; in other words, a loan is granted based only on the customer’s words, through signing an agreement that the loan amount will be paid.
  • Vacated
    Indicates a judgment that was rendered void or set aside.
  • Variable Rate
    An annual percentage rate that may change over time as the prime lending rate varies or according to your contract with the lender.
  • Verification
    Verifying whether data in a credit report is correct or not. Initiated by consumers when they question some information in their file. Credit reporting agencies will accept authentic documentation from the consumer that will help in the verification.
  • Victim Statement
    A statement that can be added to a consumer’s credit report to alert credit grantors that a consumer’s identification has been used fraudulently to obtain credit. The statement requests the credit grantor to contact the consumer by telephone before issuing credit. It remains on file for 7 years unless the consumer requests that it be removed.
  • Voluntary Bankruptcy
    If a consumer files the bankruptcy on his own, it is known as voluntary bankruptcy.
  • Wage assignment
    A signed agreement by a buyer or borrower, permitting a creditor to collect a certain portion of the debtor’s wages from an employer in the event of default.
  • Withdrawn
    This means a decision was made not to pursue a bankruptcy, a lien, etc. after court documents have been filed.
  • Writ of Replevin
    Legal document issued by a court authorizing repossession of security.
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