Guide on how to read a credit report from Equifax
1. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request a free copy of your credit report from Equifax. By law, you are allowed one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus every year.
2. The website http://www.coastalcredit.com/html/tutorial-equifax.html is a great resource and provides information about how to understand your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. The following information was found primarily on this website.
3. Once you have received your credit report from Equifax, on the top right you should see Equifax’s contact information and the date that the report was issued.
4. The first section on your credit report is your personal information including your name, social security number, address (up to the past three), and if available your date of birth and telephone number.
5. Check to make sure your current address and other personal information is correct.
6. The second section is your employment information which includes the company name and if available: date hired, income, occupation, and termination date. Your employment history may not be current since employment information is updated whenever you apply for credit.
7. The third section is overall summary of your credit history. In this section you will find information about:
a. the total number of trades (the total number of accounts you have)
b. Current trades (number of currently active accounts), unrated trades (number of accounts that are too new to be rated), current negative trades and history of neg. trades (number of currently active accounts that have been past due and number of past accounts that have been past due), no. of accounts paid (number of accounts that have been paid off), and current past due and amount past due (number of currently active accounts that are past due and the total dollar amount of the past due accounts)
c. Inquiries and Inq. Last 6 months (the total number of people that have inquired about your credit history and how many have been within the past six months)
d. Public records and collections (total number of accounts that are in public records or collections)
e. Oldest trade (your oldest account listed by date)
f. Accounts balance (total dollar amount that you still owe), monthly payment (the total minimum dollar amount due each month), credit limit (the most amount that you can borrow), and high credit (the most dollar amount that you have owed).
g. Total Real Est. balance (total dollar amount of mortgage loans), total Rev. Bal. (your total amount of credit card balances), and tot. Installment bal. (total dollar amount of loans).
h. Availability % (available percentage of credit limit)
8. The next section is your scorecard. Your score summary, Equifax/Beacon, is an overall rating of your credit. Your score includes up to four factors that are shown in the order of their relative impact on your final score. Scores range from the low 400’s to a high of 850. Common scores range from 600-700 and are considered very good scores. If your scorecard says “no hit” that means that you have no credit history and no one has inquired about your credit history.
9. If you have had any outstanding accounts that have been given to a professional debt-collecting firm, those accounts will appear in your credit report. The information in that section includes the following: the name of the creditor and the type of service they provide, the status of the account, any notes on the account, the date the account was reported and the last verified date on the account, the member number associated with the account and your account number, the date the account was closed, the original amount that is owed and the current balance as of the verified date.
10. Your credit report may also include a Public Record section. This section includes information on any civil actions in which a dollar amount was awarded this includes bankruptcies, liens, and civil actions brought against you.
11. The trade lines section of your credit report is where your creditors state the amount of your loans and credit cards with payment histories. The format of this section is as follows: in the left column is the name of the creditor, the center column is the credit amount information, and in the right column is the payment history.
12. Your payment history for the past 24 months is located on the far right hand side of your report. These codes reflect the monthly status of an account and are displayed for balance reporting loans. Collections and charge-offs are not graded. More information on what these codes stand for can be found under payment history at http://www.coastalcredit.com/html/tutorial-equifax.html.
13. On your credit report there will be a section called inquiries. This section is a list of the companies that have inquired about your credit, usually for the purpose of extending to you new or additional credit. Having to many inquiries can lower your summary score by about two points per inquiry.
14. The last section of your credit report, warning messages, lists messages regarding your credit, social security number, name, and/or address. It may state something about your inquiry going through safescan, which is an optional fraud system.
15. If you have any additional questions regarding your credit report, you may contact Equifax at the number provided on your report or at:
b. Address: CONSUMER ASSISTANCE, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
c. Telephone: (800)685-1111
Guide on how to read a credit report from Experian
1. Navigate to Experian website at www.experian.com
2. Click on the ‘Get my FREE Credit Report & Score’ near the top of the page (in the yellow information bar)
3. You will be taken to a page with where you will fill out your basic information necessary to receive your credit report. Information includes:
• First name, Last Name
• City, Zip, and State
4. After filling out this information. Click on the ‘Submit And Continue’ button at the bottom of the page (in the orange bar)
5. You will then be taken to a second page that requires more thorough personal detail necessary to receive your credit report. Information includes:
• Creation of a Username
• Creation of a Password
• Creation of a Reminder Phrase and Answer
• Social Security Number
• Phone Number
• Date of Birth
• Mother’s Maiden Name
• Credit Card Information
7. After reading the policy, click on the ‘Submit Secure Order’ button located at the bottom of the page (in the orange bar)
8. After submitting this second page of information you will be taken to your free credit report with the page personalized specifically for you
9. Your name will be displayed near the top and the page will initially be displaying the first section of your report called the ‘Personal Profile’
10. The credit report offered by Experian contains 6 different sections which are displayed down the left side near the top. These sections include:
• Personal Profile
• Credit Summary
• Public Records
• Credit Inquiries
• Account History
• Credit Score
11. Without clicking on anything you will still be located on the ‘Personal Profile” section of the credit report.
12. Located at the top in the box that contains your name and an explanation for Personal Profile are three blue boxes saying, ‘Dispute Information’, ‘Credit Report Guide’, and ‘Printable Report’
13. Click on the middle blue button that says ‘Credit Report Guide’, this will provide a step by step explanation of all six sections of the credit report and how to read the information given
14. The ‘Credit Report Guide’ includes the following information:
• Personal Profile: In this section you will find the personal information contained in your credit file, including your:
o Legal Name
o Year of Birth
o Other Names associated with your credit file
o Current & previous addresses
o Current & previous employers
• Credit Summary: This section gives you a broad look at your current and past credit status. Here you'll find the total number of both open & closed accounts in your name, the total of all account balances, whether you have any delinquencies, & the number of inquiries that have been made to your credit file.
• Public Records: This information comes from federal district bankruptcy records, wage items, state & county court records, tax liens and monetary judgments, and, in some states, overdue child support records.
• Credit Inquiries: This section contains the names of those who have obtained a copy of your credit report. We have provided creditor contact information in order to make it easier for you to resolve any issues. Use the addresses and phone numbers to contact them.
• Account History: This section includes specific information on each account you've opened in the past. We have provided creditor contact information in order to make it easier for you to resolve any issues. Use the addresses and phone numbers to contact them.
• Plus Score: Your PLUS Score is a numerical representation of your credit risk on a scale very similar to those used by lenders. Your PLUS Score is based on the information contained in your credit report.
15. The ‘Credit Report Guide’ includes all the pervious information and goes into even greater depth by giving examples and more explanations to make sure you will fully understand how to read and interpret your free credit report form Experian
Guide on how to read a credit report from TransUnion
1.Navigate to the TransUnion Website at www.transunion.com
2.Ignore the main advertisement as it is an offer for unlimited credit reports and scores and you will start to be billed after 30 days.
3.Click on the “Personal” tab in the top left corner of the main page.
4.In the right column under “Credit Reports and Monitoring” click “Free Credit Report”.
5.Now click on the pink “SEE YOUR FREE CREDIT REPORT” button.
6.In blue under “START HERE” you will see a pull-down menu. Choose your home state from this list and click “request report”.
7.Proceed to fill in the boxes making sure not to skip over any of the boxes with a red star next to them. When finished click continue.
8.You will be given the choice between 3 credit reporting companies. You may choose just 1 or even all 3 if you wish. Once you have decided, click the box next the the company(s) and click “Next”. (For this guide just EQUIFAX will be used)
9.Click “Next” again.
10.A screen will come up showing your information you have put in. Verify that everything is correct and click “continue”.
11.There may be more person information checks to make sure it is really you. Go through and answer the questions it provides.
12.If you wish to know your score, at this point you can choose that option but be warned that you will be charged for this. By law they are only required to provide a free credit report, not a credit score. If you wish to just stick with the free credit report, click “No Thanks, I Don't Want to Know My Score”.
13.Now you will get a screen advertising to try to get you to pay for more. Once again, if you wish this to be free, choose NO on all the offers and click “Submit”.
14.Now you just need to click “View and Print Your Online Report”
15.Now you will see your credit report. On the left is a column of choices of things you may search in your credit report. Some important information can be found in “Account Summary” and Negative Information”. Although this does not give your credit score, you can use this information to help you tell if anything is wrong. If you find anything that may be wrong with your report, you can click “Dispute File Information” and will be given instructions on how to change any errors.
How to order a credit report using annualcreditreport.com
1. Navigate to www.annualcreditreport.com
2. On home page there is a box that states “Start here to view and print your credit report now”. In this box select the state you are from in the drop down box and click the “Request Report” tab.
3. You will next be asked to provide personal information which will be used to identify you and provide your credit report and a security code.
1. Information requested includes: Full name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Current Address, and Previous Address if you have lived at your current address for less than two years.
2. There is a box you can check so that only the last four digits of your social security number appear on your credit reports.
3. The security code at the bottom of the page ensures
4. After imputing your personal information, you will be able to select up to three different credit reports to receive. The credit reports available come from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Once you have selected the credit reports(s) you wish to receive, click on the “Next” tab.
5. The next page will inform you that you will be taken to the official website of the credit reporting agency you requested a credit report from. Again click on the “Next” tab.
1. If you selected a credit report from Experian, you will be asked to provide the last four digits of your social security number for security purposes. After doing so click the “Submit” tab.
1. Next click on the “Annual Credit Report” tab.
2. The next page will inform you of the price for ordering your credit report. You are eligible for a free credit every twelve months. After reading the Terms and Conditions, check the box stating you have read them and click on the “Submit” button.
3. The next page will ask some security questions to insure your identity. Once you have answered the buttons click on the “Continue” tab.
4. You will be taken to a report summary page. At the top of the page it reads, “Print this page or write down your report number and date for future access. To return to your report in the near future, log on to www.experian.com/consumerYour browser may not support display of this image. and select “View your report again” or “Dispute” and then enter your report number. “
5. On the report summary page you can see: report number, potentially negative items, accounts in good standing, recent requests for your credit history, personal information, personal statement, messages from Experian, and information to contact Experian.
6. To get back to AnnualCreditReport.com locate and click on the “Return to AnnualCreditReport.com” tab at the top of the page.
2. If you selected a credit report from TransUnion, you will be shown with some personal information that provided to AnnualCreditReport.com. Click on the “Continue” tab.
1. You will be asked to create a username, password, secret question, and answer to the secret question you created. After doing this and reading the service agreement on the bottom of the page click on the “Accept” tab.
2. The next page will ask if you want to receive a news letter through email. If you do, type in your email address in the box provided and click on the “Yes, Please Keep me Informed” tab. If you do not want to give out your email address, click on the “No Thanks” tab.
3. The next page will ask some security questions to insure your identity. You may be asked to provide account numbers of accounts in your name.
4. Once you have provided adequate information, you will be asked if you would like a report of your credit score for a fee. You can accept of decline this.
5. You will be given a copy of your order for a credit report and your order number. Print this page for reference purposes. Click on the “Next” tab.
6. You will be provided with more offers which you can accept or decline.
7. The final page is a summary of your report with personal information.
8. To get back to AnnualCreditReport.com locate and click on the “Return to AnnualCreditReport.com” tab at the top of the page. You will be asked if you are sure you want to return. To return click on “Yes, I want to return to AnnualCreditReport.com now”.
3. If you selected a credit report from Equifax, you will be shown personal information. Make sure the information is correct and then click on the “Continue” tab.
1. You will be asked some security questions to insure your identity. Once you have answered the buttons click on the “Continue” tab.
2. You will next be offered your credit score for a fee. You can accept or decline this offer.
3. On the next page you will be asked about the information you would like to receive. Once you have selected what you are interested in, click on the “Submit” tab.
4. To get back to AnnualCreditReport.com locate and click on the “Return to AnnualCreditReport.com” tab at the top of the page.
6. In order to request a fraud alert you must contact the credit agencies individually:
1. Equifax: 1-877-576-5734; www.alerts.equifax.com
2. Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com/fraud
3. TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
7. The personal information you provide is encrypted before being sent to the individual credit agencies in order to protect your identity. This information is then decrypted when received by the individual credit agencies.
8. You are able to request a free credit report from each credit agency every twelve months.
9. If your identity cannot be authenticated, you will be given instructions on how to receive your credit report through the mail.
How to put a credit freeze on your credit report for Equifax
1. Navigate to the Equifax website at www.equifax.com
2. Click on the 'Contact Us' tab at the top of the screen.
3. In the 'Contact Us' menu, click on the Product Questions:
Have questions about credit reports, scores, fraud protection. Check out the Learning Center.
4. This leads to the Equifax learning center. Select the 'Customer Service' tab. A drop-down menu will appear as your mouse glides over the tab. There are six different Customer Service sections. Select the words 'Security Freeze.'
5. This leads to a 'Security Freeze' link. Information is provided on Security Freezes. The different sections are:
1. What it is
2. Who you can request
3. Need to Plan Ahead
4. Victim of ID Theft
5. Submitting Freeze Request by Mail
6. Charges for Security Freezes
7. Security Freeze Conformation
6. Read through the information in order to be completely aware of security freeze elements.
7. After reading through all the information, scroll back to the 'Submitting Freeze Request by Mail' tab. Click on the 'Click Here' link to see if your state has particular instructions or limitations on security credit freezes.
8. Exit out of the new window that appears after reading about the different state instructions. Continue to read through the instructions under the 'Submitting Freeze Request by Mail.'
9. To submit a credit freeze request, your full name- including any suffixes, your complete address, your Social Security number, and date of birth is required information. Send the information to
1. Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, Georgia 30348
10. To ensure that your request was received, Equifax will provide you with a 10-digit personal identification number (PIN). This number will be your confirmation number.
11. To learn more, click on the 'learn more' link under the 'Security Freeze Conformation' section. This will lead to a list of states from which you can choose the state in which you reside for more detailed conformation information.
12. Important: Putting a credit freeze on your credit will most likely result in a fee. To estimate the extent of the fees, read the information provided under the 'Charges for Security Freezes' section. The fees differ among states.
13. You can ask any other questions or voice concerns under the 'Contact Us' tab at www.equifax.com.
How to put a credit freeze on your credit report for Experian
1. Before you begin, you may want to learn about a security freeze. You can follow this link to http://www.experian.com/consumer/security_freeze.html. Also, you might find the article “Should you freeze your credit report?” helpful. This article is found at http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/FinancialPrivacy/LockAwayYourCreditFromIDThieves.aspx?wa=wsignin1.0. There is helpful information for victims of identity fraud on the United States Department of Justice website. To get to this information, follow this link: http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html.
2. Go to Experian’s official website at http://www.experian.com/.
3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click (under notices) on the words ‘Security Freeze’.
4. On the top of this page there are links to information and warnings about credit freezes. Read through those warnings (they are very short).
a. You should note that putting a freeze on your credit report will make it more difficult to
5. Then click on the link of the Security Freeze page called Add a security freeze.
6. You will need to enter some personal information:
a. Your name
b. Your address
c. Your date of birth
d. Your social security number
e. If you have lived at your current address for less than two years, Your two prior addresses
7. When you enter your information and click continue you will be taken to an order summary page to enter your credit card information.
a. A credit freeze will cost varying amounts depending on which state you live in. If you are the victim of credit fraud, however, a credit freeze is free of charge. To learn more about charges as they vary between states read the article “Should you freeze your credit report?” A link to this article is under item 1 of this list.
8. Before submitting your order, you need to read and agree to the Terms and Conditions for submitting a credit freeze request. Check the box at the bottom of the order summary after you do this.
9. Verify your information, and confirm your order.
10. For more information from Experian about your credit and protecting yourself from credit fraud follow this link http://www.experian.com/consumer/credit_education.html.
How to put a credit freeze on your credit report for TransUnion
1. Navigate to http://www.transunion.com/
2. At the bottom of the page, under the column ‘Identity Theft,’ click on the link ‘security freeze’ which is contained in the statement ‘How a security freeze helps you control access to your credit report.’ (NOTE: A credit freeze is also known as a credit report freeze, a credit report lock down, a credit lock down, a credit lock or a security freeze. On the TransUnion site, they will be referring to it as a ‘security freeze.’)
3. In the list of questions shown, click on the question ‘How do I add a Security Freeze to my credit report?’
4. It will give you three ways to do this: online, by phone, or by mail.
5. If you want to do it by phone or by mail, follow the instructions that are given. The following instructions will be on how to put the credit freeze online.
6. In the online instructions, click on the word ‘online’ that will link you to a login.
7. If you are a member of TransUnion already, sign in with your username and password. If you are not a member click on the link ‘First Time? Click Here’ to register.
8. After you click the link ‘First Time? Click Here’ you will be asked to give your name and addresses. Enter this information and then proceed to the next step by clicking ‘NEXT.’
9. You will then need to create a username and password, choose a security question, record your answer to that question, giver your Social Security Number (SSN), email address, and your date of birth.
10. Once you have entered this information, read the Service Agreement.
11. NOTE that there is a box that can be checked underneath the service agreement. This is NOT required to check in order to accept the service agreement or in order to go to the next step! It is only if you want to receive their free monthly newsletter.
12. Click on ‘ACCEPT’ if you accept the service agreement and it will take you to the next step.
13. If your username has already been taken by someone else, they will have you enter another one. Just enter in another username and click ‘CONTINUE.’
14. TransUnion then needs to ensure that you are who you say you are. To do this, they give you three questions that you need to answer. You should actually only have two questions available to answer, because they have already asked for your year of birth, and should have already confirmed that it was accurate.
15. Click on ‘I HAVE THIS’ regarding Revolving Account Numbers or regarding Personal Address History. By clicking on the ‘I HAVE THIS’ link, you are simply saying that you have that information available to give to them, so that they can confirm your identity.
16. If you choose to give information regarding Revolving Account Numbers, it will take you to a screen where it will show you different accounts that you have, such as a credit card account. Make sure the accounts are accurate and then enter in the account number for ONE of your accounts that is shown to the left.
17. If you choose to give information regarding Personal Address History, it will take you to a screen where it will show you different addresses which you have had (NOTE: you will see some addresses that you have never had. These are false addresses put among your real address as a security measure). Enter in the Street Address Number and Zip Code of ONE address in the spaces provided, and then click on ‘NEXT.’
18. It doesn’t matter if you choose to give information regarding Revolving Account Numbers of Personal Address History first, because after you enter in that information you will then be required to fill out whichever one you didn’t choose first.
19. Once you have filled out the required information, it will lead you to a screen that will confirm if the information you gave is correct. If it is correct then you will see a green box with a thumbs up, and to the right it will say that your answer was correct.
20. You will now have to provide information on the other topic (the one you didn’t choose last time). So, if you chose to give Personal Address History information, they will then require you to give Revolving Account Numbers information. Click on ‘I HAVE THIS’ for the remaining topic, and then give the required information for that topic.
21. If the information is correct for your second topic, you will be taken to a page that says ‘Security Freeze’ at the top with your full name underneath it. This means that your identity has been confirmed and that you are now a member of the website.
22. At the bottom of the page is a large box that is entitled ‘SECURITY FREEZE STATUS.’ This tells you whether or not your TransUnion credit report is currently frozen or not. In the box, it gives you the option to freeze your report by clicking on ‘ADD SECURITY FREEZE.’
23. Above this box is helpful information on what the freeze will do, and the options that you have AFTER you choose to freeze your report. You have three options: (1) Add a Global Lift, which will allow all lenders to see your report, but only for a limited period of time. (2) Add a Specific Lift, which will allow only lenders that you want to see your report to have access to it for a limited period of time. This is done by giving these lenders a special code that will allow them to access your report. (3) You can also choose to remove the freeze entirely, so any lender can see your report at any time, unless you choose to put the freeze back on your report.
24. If you choose to freeze your account by clicking on ‘ADD SECURITY FREEZE,’ you will be directed to a page that requires you to create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for security purposes. This pin is required whenever you want to change the status of your security freeze. RECORD YOUR PIN SO YOU DON’T FORGET IT AND RECORD IT SO THAT YOU WON’T LOSE IT!
25. Enter your PIN and click on ‘CONFIRM.’
26. You will be taken to a page that confirms that the freeze has been applied. It also tells you what this freeze does, and displays your PIN.
27. Click on ‘CONTINUE.’ This will take you back to the page where it has the box that shows what your freeze status is. It should now say ‘FROZEN’ in this box.
28. Congratulations! You have successfully frozen your TransUnion credit report!
29. Now you can create a lift anytime you want.
30. To return later to manage your security freeze, follow the same steps outlined as earlier to get to the member login, or simply navigate to https://annualcreditreport.transunion.com/ and then enter in your username and password.
31. If you aren’t directed to the welcome screen, just click ‘Continue to my account.’
32. Look near the top of the page at the different tabs there are. You should currently be on the ‘welcome’ tab. Look for the ‘security freeze’ tab and then click on it to bring it up.
33. Click on ‘CREATE A NEW LIFT’ at the bottom of the ‘SECURITY FREEZE STATUS’ box.
34. Select which type lift that you would like (Note: see step 21 for a recap on what the different lifts consist of).
35. Enter in the date that you want the lift to start, and then the date that you want the lift to end. You can type in the date (MM/DD/YYYY) or simply select it on the calendar that appears after you click on the box. NOTE: Read the information under ‘Choose the details of your lift’ to learn more about some policies and procedures for creating a lift.
36. Enter your PIN and click on ‘CONFIRM ADDING LIFT.’
37. You will be taken to a page confirming that the lift has been applied. Click on ‘CONTINUE’ to navigate back to page which shows your security freeze status. The ‘SECURITY FREEZE STATUS’ box will reflect the changes made.
38. You can cancel the lifts you have created by clicking on ‘CANCEL ALL LIFTS’ in the ‘SECURITY FREEZE STATUS’ box.
39. It will take you to a page where you will enter in your PIN. After you enter in your PIN and click ‘CONFIRM LIFT CANCELLATION,’ you will be taken to a confirmation page.
40. Click on ‘CONTINUE’ to navigate back to page which shows your security freeze status. The ‘SECURITY FREEZE STATUS’ box will reflect the changes made.
41. To remove the freeze completely:
42. At the bottom of the main security freeze page there are three links under the heading ‘Other Features.’ One of those links is ‘Remove Security Freeze.’
43. Click on this link which will take you to a page where you will enter in your PIN and then click on ‘CONFIRM REMOVAL’ to completely remove the freeze.
44. You will be taken to a page confirming that the lift has been applied. Click on ‘CONTINUE’ to navigate back to page which shows your security freeze status. The ‘SECURITY FREEZE STATUS’ box will reflect the changes made by saying ‘NO SECURITY FREEZE ON FILE.’
45. IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
46. This TransUnion credit freeze is ONLY for your TransUnion credit report. There are two other major consumer reporting agencies besides TransUnion by which lenders can gain access to your credit report. These other two are Equifax and Experian. So to obtain a security freeze for both of those agencies, you will have to go through a similar process accessed through their websites: