Experian, TransUnion and Equifax now offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.
I am a landlord who has been awarded a small claims judgment in excess of $5,000. Can this be reported to a credit bureau? If so, how?
Civil judgments like the one you describe are a debt owed through the court. In the past, the judgment would have become part of your previous tenant's credit report with no action on your part. However, Experian no longer shows judgments or tax lien information as part of a consumer's credit history.
Bankruptcy is now the only public record information that is collected routinely by the national credit reporting companies, including Experian.
Judgments Don't Affect Your Credit Score, But Can Impact Your Application
Since judgments are not included in credit reports, they won't be factored into credit score calculations. However, judgments are a matter of public record, so potential lenders may choose to search for this information from sources other than the national credit bureaus as part of the application process. If a lender sees that a potential borrower has a judgment against them, it may impact that borrower's ability to qualify for credit.
What Information Is Included in Your Credit Report?
An Experian credit report will include the following information:
Personal Identification Information
This information comes from what you provide to your lenders and is used to identify you, but has no impact on your credit scores. Personal identification information includes:
- Name and address: Your current name and address, along with any previous names or name variations and previous addresses you've used (including P.O. boxes or work addresses). You may also see the addresses of any friends or family members with whom you have a joint account. If you are an authorized user on someone else's account, their address will also appear.
- Current and previous employers: While your credit report is not meant to provide a complete employment history, your lenders may report the names of employers you've listed on credit applications, and those will appear in this section.
- Phone numbers: Any phone numbers you have provided to lenders may appear here.
- Your year of birth: This information is not included in credit reports obtained for employment purposes.
- Your spouse's or co-applicant's name: If you've held an account with a spouse or other person, their name may appear on your report.
If you have filed for bankruptcy in the past 10 years, that information will be listed in this section. Bankruptcies are the only public records that appear on a credit report.
This section will list your credit accounts, including credit cards, car loans, mortgages, student loans and collection accounts. Lenders are not required to provide account information to the credit bureaus, so you may not see all of your accounts in this section.
This section lists requests for your credit information, and is divided into two separate sections:
- Hard inquiries are requests for your credit history that are usually the result of an application you have made for credit or services. Your lenders and others requesting your credit report can see hard inquiries, and they can affect credit scores, although any negative impact is usually minimal and temporary.
- Soft inquiries are often the result of a preapproved offer of credit or a periodic account review by a company you already do business with. This is also the type of inquiry that appears when you check your own credit report. Soft inquiries are not included in score calculations and have no impact on your credit scores.
Credit reports do not include information about income, banking relationships such as checking or savings accounts, or assets such as certificates of deposit, retirement accounts, stock holdings or real estate.
How to Clean Up Your Credit Report
If you've had credit difficulties in the past, there are steps you can take to begin rehabilitating your credit history and improving your credit scores.
- Bring any past-due accounts current. If you have accounts that are past due, try to bring those accounts current as soon as possible.
- Pay off collections or charge-offs. Some newer credit score models exclude paid collections from their calculations, so paying off a collection account could help increase your scores right away.
- Reduce the balances on your credit card accounts. This is especially important if you have a high utilization rate, or balance-to-limit ratio.
- Check your credit score. You can get your free score from Experian online. With it, you'll receive a list of the top risk factors currently impacting your score, letting you know where to focus your efforts.
- Sign up for Experian Boost®ø. You can boost your score by adding your eligible, on-time utility, cellphone and streaming service payments to your Experian credit report.
If you're not sure where to start, a good first step to taking control of your credit situation is to get copies of your credit reports from Experian and each of the other national credit reporting companies—TransUnion and Equifax. You can order free copies of your credit report from all three credit reporting companies by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find anything that's inaccurate, follow the dispute instructions to request to have it corrected.
You can also get your free credit report directly from Experian anytime. The quickest and easiest way to dispute any inaccuracies on your Experian credit report is by going online to our Dispute Center.
Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist