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Once you've obtained a copy of your credit report, you'll be able to see what your creditors are saying about you. There's just one problem -- credit reports can be a little confusing. Never fear! CCCS-OC is here to help. In the following paragraphs you'll find a step-by-step explanation of how to read and interpret each section of your credit report.

I.D. Section

Here you'll find identifying information like your:

Easy, right? But don't just skim over this section. Read all the entries to make sure everything is correct. One bad piece of information and the credit history listed on your report could be wrong.

Credit History Section

This is the meat of the report. It contains a list of your open and paid credit accounts and indicates any late payments reported by your creditors. Although it may seem a little tedious, it's essential that you read through this section very thoroughly. If you find any information that is incorrect or accounts that don't belong to you, you'll need to submit a dispute letter to the credit-reporting agency.

The basic format for the credit history section (see sample) is as follows:

Collection Accounts Section

If you've had any accounts referred to collection agencies in the last seven years, this is where they will be reported. The name of the collection agency will be listed along with the amount you owe and, in some cases, their contact information. If a collection is listed on your report that doesn't look familiar to you, contact the credit bureau and submit a dispute letter.

For your own piece of mind, you may also want to contact the collection agency to determine the nature of the account. Here's why.


Courthouse Records Section

This section may also be referred to as Public Records. Here you'll find a listing of public record items (obtained from local, state and federal courts) that reflect your history of meeting financial obligations. These include:

Look closely at all the information listed here. If anything is mistaken, contact the credit bureau and submit a dispute letter.

Additional Information

This section consists primarily of former addresses and past employers as reported by your creditors.

Inquiry Section

Contains a list of the businesses that have received your credit report in the last 24 months. If you find the names of businesses that sound unfamiliar, you should find out who they are and why they're looking at your credit! The credit-reporting agency may be able to help you with contact information. Remember, only companies that have received your written authorization should be able to check your credit history.

Time information is retained

The length of time that information remains in your file varies.


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