A credit report is a summary of your credit history. Potential creditors and lenders use credit reports as part of their decision-making process to choose whether to extend you credit — and at what interest rate. It's important to check your credit report regularly because creditors and lenders use the information in it, such as your payment history and the number of active credit accounts, also known as “tradelines,” to evaluate your creditworthiness.
There are two nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax and TransUnion – both of which maintain consumer credit reports containing information reported to them by lenders and creditors. Your credit report may not be identical with each of the two agencies, as some lenders may report information to both of them, just one, or sometimes none at all.
Your Equifax credit report contains four types of information:
This section of your credit report includes personal information, such as your name, address, Social Insurance Number (S.I.N.), and date of birth, and may also include employment information. The identifying information contained in your credit report is not used to calculate credit scores.
Credit accounts, also known as “tradelines”
Your credit report lists the credit accounts, also known as “tradelines,” that you have established with lenders. Each credit account as reported by lenders generally contains information on the type of account (for example, a credit card, mortgage, or auto loan), the date you opened the account, your credit limit or loan amount, the account balance, and your payment history.
This section includes information about the companies who have pulled a copy of your credit report, sometimes known as an “inquiry.” There are two types of inquiries that you may find listed in your credit report: “soft” inquiries and “hard” inquiries.
Soft inquiries may include your own requests for your credit history, inquiries by companies extending you pre-approved offers for credit cards, or inquiries made by your current creditors who wish to perform a review of your credit (also known as “account monitoring”). Soft inquiries are only visible to you and not to potential lenders or creditors.
Hard inquiries occur when a potential lender reviews your credit history because you have applied for credit such as a new loan or credit card. These may remain on your credit report for 36 months. While hard inquiries do impact credit scores, soft inquiries do not.
Public record and collections information
Public court record information reported to Equifax, such as bankruptcies, is also listed in your credit report. Past-due accounts that have been turned over to a collections agency could also be included in your credit report.