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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.


Rent and Credit
  • Why is my rent on my credit report?
  • In December 2010, Experian became the first credit reporting agency to include on-time rental payment data on its credit reports. This unique data set, collected by Experian RentBureau and reported on Experian credit reports, can empower many Americans to build their credit history. Simply by paying their rent on time, responsible renters — including students, immigrants and displaced homeowners — may now have the opportunity to gain access to mainstream credit products.


  • What information is reported to Experian RentBureau?
  • Experian® RentBureau® receives updated rental payment data every 24 hours from property management companies and electronic rent payment processors across the nation. The positive, paid-as-agreed rental payment data reported to Experian RentBureau is incorporated within Experian credit reports.


  • How will my lease appear on my credit report?
  • Your apartment lease will appear on your credit report as a tradeline that describes your account status and activity. The tradeline will display your rental payment history on the lease for the past 25 months, if available, and will include additional information, such as the date opened, monthly payment amount and recent payment.


  • What type of rent information is on my credit report?
  • Only positive rental history reported to Experian RentBureau 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.


  • How will lenders use my rent information?
  • Lenders may consider your rental obligation as one of the factors when determining your ability to pay any new debt. There are many kinds of credit scores and many different underwriting practices that are used by lenders for various types of lending, such as auto loans, mortgages and credit cards. Each credit grantor decides what standards you must meet for it to grant you credit.


  • Will my rent payments affect my credit score?
  • Your rental payment information will be included as part of your standard credit report and may be incorporated into certain credit scores, such as VantageScore® and Experian's PLUS Score.

    This will allow many who previously didn't have a credit history to become scoreable for the first time and establish or build credit history through timely rental payments.


  • Can I submit my own rental payment information?
  • No, you cannot report your own rental payment history. Only property management companies and rent payment services working with Experian RentBureau can report rental payment data to Experian RentBureau at this time.


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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